Great Flood

Plaque showing level of the 1333 Flood

Plaque on Via San Remigio recording the level of the 1333 flood

The first great recorded flood of the Arno was in November 1333 and reportedly killed more than 3,000 people. It was chronicled by Giovanni Villani, a contemporary historian, diplomat, and banker. The picture of the plaque above allegedly records the level of the 1333 flood and is posted along Via San Remigio, just off Via de Neri in the city center. Just above the plaque is another plaque commemorating the record level of the November 1966 flood, six hundred and thirty-three years later.

Villani stated in his Nuova Cronica that:

by noon on Thursday, November 4, 1333, a flood along the Arno River spread across the entire plain of San Salvi. He wrote that by nightfall the eastern wall of the city that was damming the water became damaged and then washed away in the flood, allowing the flood waters to breach and fill the city streets. He claims that the water rose above the altar in the Florence Baptistry, reaching over half the height of the porphyry columns. Bartlett notes that these columns, presented to Florence by the Pisans more than two hundred years before, have scratched lines to this day indicating the water level reached by the flood in 1333. Villani further claims that the height of the flood water in the courtyard of the commune’s palace (residence of the podestà) reached 3 m (10 ft). The Carraia bridge collapsed with the exception of two of its arches, while the Trinità bridge collapsed except for one pier and one arch located towards the church of the Santa Trinità. The Ponte Vecchio—save the two central piers—was swept away when huge logs in the rushing water became clogged around the it, allowing the water to build and leap over the arches, states Villani. There was an old statue of Mars that stood on a pedestal near the Ponte Vecchio, but this too was taken by the flood along the Arno.

[Source: Wikipedia]

Villani was also for two years the superintendent over the construction of the south doors to the Baptistry, designed by Pisano. A statue of Villani is in one of the corner niches of the Loggia del Mercat Nuovo.