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Floods and Cultural Heritage: Risk Assessment and Management for the City of Florence, Italy

Author(s): C. Arrighi; F. Castelli; B. Mazzanti

Linked Author(s): Chiara Arrighi, Fabio Castelli

Keywords: No keywords

Abstract: Frequent flood events in the last decades emphasize the unique challenge for urban areas in managing natural hazards. Beyond the tangible potential losses to buildings, infrastructures and economic activities, historic cities have to face the threats on the cultural heritage. International scale reports show that Europe is on the top of the list for the number of World Heritage Cities (WHC) exposed to high and extreme flood risk. Increasing risk could lead to a loss of cultural assets that are felt by the population of immense importance for their contribution to human wellbeing. Nevertheless, much more needs to be done in order to assess flood risk of cultural heritage. A quantification of the potential losses, direct and indirect, could accelerate the public debate and stimulate the adoption of protection measures. However, valuing the risk for the cultural heritage is a complex task since the value of an artwork is hardly monetizable. Here a case study of broad importance is presented, which is the art city of Florence (Italy), affected by a devastating flood in 1966. This flood event is considered as exemplary because brought to the world attention the threats posed by natural hazards on cultural heritage. Currently in Florence 176 buildings are officially classified as being part of the cultural heritage of the city (e.g. churches, museums, libraries etc. ). For an estimated 100-year recurrence interval flood 46 of them may be affected by the inundation. The number increases to 126 for the 200-year event, similar in magnitude to the1966 one. Besides the cultural buildings, a huge number of ancient manuscripts, paintings, sculptures and art objects can be damaged. A preliminary risk assessment is presented for selected damage categories and possible risk mitigation strategies are discussed.


Year: 2016

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