Landscape Learn

28.04.18 - The River and the City



The River and the City

Foray in Florence took place on the 27th, 28th and 29thof April 2018 with a programme of activities presented in collaboration with the University of Florence - Landscape Design Lab. The theme of the event was a reimagining of the Grand Tour, looking to the past to inspire solutions to contemporary and future challenges in Florence and beyond.


The Arno is the longest river of Tuscany, flowing 241 kilometres from the Apennines to the estuary near Pisa on the Mediterranean Sea. Water is a powerful resource for good but in the case of the Arno can also turn into a weapon or political tool – as some of the greatest Italian minds were employed to do, including Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, when they planned to harness the power of the River for warfare and commercial interests.

The second day of the Foray in Florence was dedicated to the study of the delicate relationship between the City of Florence and the River Arno. Florentines recall devasting floods that time over time profoundly impacted the fabric and heritage of the city. During the most devastating recent flood in 1966, 3000ha of Florence were flooded, with 14000 works of art damaged and 3-4 million books destroyed. The water reached a height of 5.2m in some places, as still marked in signs hung across the city centre. The Basilica of Santa Croce and the surrounding areas were devasted by the 1966 flood, as professor Gabriele Corsani explained.

Professor Giovanni Menduni illustrated the Arno River Basin Plan, that has been put in place to prevent future hazards, and Landscape Learn reflected on the new challenges that require immediate and positive action in the face of climate change; this part of the walking tour east along the River Arno was expertly guided by professor Paolo Capretti and Enrico Falqui, Vice-Director of the Landscape Design Lab and co-curator of the Foray in Florence.