"Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces" has just been published by Random House Inc. We have read it and can heartily recommend it to anyone interested in knowing more about Florence, especially in the history of art in this city and the historic flood of 1966. The publisher has generously given us permission to reprint here a lengthy excerpt. I think the first sentence of the book "There is Florence and there is Firenze" is spot on and is the first of many rich observations the author makes throughout:
I grandi fiumi sono l'immagine del tempo,
Crudele e impersonale. Osservati da un ponte
Dichiarano la loro nullit inesorabile...
The great rivers are the image of time,
Cruel and impersonal. Observed from a bridge
They declare their implacable nullity...
Eugenio Montale, "L'Arno a Rovezzano"
There is Florence and there is Firenze. Firenze is the place where the citizens of the capital of Tuscany live and work. Florence is the place where the rest of us come to look. Firenze goes back around two thousand years to the Romans and, at least in legend, the Etruscans. But Florence was founded in perhaps the early 1800s when expatriate French, English, Germans, and not a few Americans settled here to meditate on art and the locale--the genius of the place--that produced it. Over the next two centuries a considerable part of the rest of the world followed them for shorter visits--"visit" being derived from the Latin vistare, "to go to see," and, further back, from videre, simply "to see"--in the form of what came to be called tourism. The Florentines are here, as they have always been, to live and work; to primp, boast, cajole, and make sardonic, acerbic asides; to count their money and hoard their real estate, the stuff--la roba--in their attics and cellars, and their secrets. We are here for the view.