When The World Answered


When The World Answered

When the World Answered looks back at the worldwide Herculean efforts to save and restore the artwork of Florence after massive flooding destroyed many of the cities priceless treasures nearly fifty years ago. Filmed by local producer Kim Jacobs, the documentary also explores the modern-day efforts to recognize the women artists who made significant contributions during Florence’s time of need.

AIRED: November 12, 2015 | 0:27:08

[water rushing]

NARRATOR: It was a historic

and cataclysmic flood which

threated lives and some of

mankind's most precious

LINDA FALCONE: The whole world

damaged in some very profound


many things that were lost over


NARRATOR: This is the story of

how the world answered.

came and answered Florence's


They did it because I think the

NARRATOR: And how it's still

answering 50 years later.


witness to the good that can

come from pain or that can come

ANNOUNCER: "When the World

Answered" is made possible

through the generous support of

NARRATOR: The great Arno River

passes right through the city of

Florence Italy.

The city of Man, of Galileo,

Botticelli, and Leonardo da

Vinci, who said a single drop of

water can gather and reflect all

the places it passes, and in

time water eventually changes


NARRATOR: In, 1966, without

warning, the Arno burst out of

its banks in the night when most

were sleeping.


only afford one roll of film at

NARRATOR: Nicholas Kraczyna

took some of the first recorded

still images.


to the bridge and it was

exhilarating, it was very dark

because it was overcast.


I would have to hold my breath

and wait for a dramatic moment

in snap.

It is amazing how young mind

does not consider what

Here I am, this is a historic

moment and I'm going to living

through it.

My own personal history and

Florence's history are

NARRATOR: Internationally

acclaimed movie director, Franco

Zeffirlli recorded the only

known film of the watery

NARRATOR: With unparalleled

intensity, the raging water

destroyed homes, lives, and some

of the world's most precious

NARRATOR: Not since the

Renaissance had a flood caused

such devastation.

4 million rare books from the


14,000 masterpieces.

Ghiberti's "Doors of Paradise"

ripped open.

Donatello's "Mary Magdalene"

Santa Croce's "Chimabue."

Vasari's "Last Supper."


starts coming into the city and

it rises so fast that

no one has time to save

or bring away from museums and

churches those art treasures

on which Florence is so rich.

of Michelangelo,

of Galileo,

of Machiavelli

NARRATOR: Narrated by Richard

Burton, "Days of Destruction" is


Zeffirelli's film, I cannot

NARRATOR: Antonia Bargellini

was 22 years old when her

family's home was nearly



afraid that buildings would

collapse, because the water rose

5 meters higher.

We saw the diesel flowing out,

we were afraid that it would

NARRATOR: Her father,

Mayor Piero Bargellini,

governed rooftop to

rooftop amidst the shouts of


seemed to be almost back to the

middle Ages because of the

silence, no light, no water, no


And those voices that you could

hear through the night were very


out of Dante's Inferno because

it was silence.

And the only thing you could

hear were oars dipping into the

water and all these people on

the boat were frozen and as soon

as they touch land everyone was

animated it was as though people

turn on their sound.

And right then and there I

decided I would photograph the

people of Florence and Florence

and what happened to them

and how the city was resurrected


we came out in this Florence

covered in mud, dirty,

we were welcomed

by other parts of the

city in a unthinkable way and a

great sense of camaraderie began

to develop which in my opinion

NARRATOR: The response to

Zeffirelli's film was


Thousands of volunteers.

Millions in aid.

First responders were mostly

students who became known as

JANE FORTUNE: And those mud

angels were kids, basically,

that came from all over the

world, and helped get

out of the museums

and into places where

POALA TROISE: Of course it was


mud, no food.

But I remember it was an


the capital of humanism, the

capital of culture, the whole

JANE FORTUNE: It actually

brought the world to Florence

and showed Florence how much the

NARRATOR: The flood forced in

a new era of scientific

discovery in the field of

restoration both in art, also

precious books.


the flood, they close the

library actually trying to move

the things up and start the

NARRATOR: Here at the National

Central Library in Florence,

SIDOTI: They did some mistakes

in the very beginning.

They tried to clean things up

using sponges and they use

sawdust on the material that

added dirt to dirt.

No one knew what to do.

And they started washing books

in the railway station.

That was the only place in

Florence where they had clean


NARRATOR: The flood destroyed

4 million rare books.

Today there are seven

conservators who still

wash and trim,

For some materials and works of

art, it has taken 50 years to

develop restoration techniques

that work.

Across town at the Opificio

Pietre Dure, scientific

developments continue to save


probably one of the most

the world.

They can pretty much restore any

NARRATOR: After over 40 years

in storage, a technique has

finally been developed to save

POALA VOJNOVIC: Up until three

years ago it was completely

covered with Japanese paper.

So it's a huge work of art and

came in and all you saw were

these white boards.

Hopefully it will be back in

2016 when we have the 50th

NARRATOR: Vasari's "Last

Supper" will eventually return

to Florence's Basilica of Santa

Croce, resting place for

Florence's greats and perhaps


the Cloister.

The room of "The Last Supper"

The huge place where

probably 300 monks gathered to

eat was that lowest place in

NARRATOR: Secretary General,

Giuseppe De Micheli points to

the water marks in the Cloister

where Vasari's "Last Supper" and

dozens of masterpieces were

Santa Croce is both a church and

museum of fine are.

Part of the allure of Florence

is seeing great works of art in

the very places where patrons

and artists intended for them to

be seen...

POALA VOJNOVIC: Santa Croce is

the pantheon of Italian greats.

Many great Italian men and women

are buried here.

We have Michelangelo, Galileo

Galilei, Machiavelli, Ghiberti

and an empty monument to Dante

NARRATOR: The Chimabue's

crucifix, Santa Croce's very

first piece of art, became a

victim of the flood...and a

POALA VOJNOVIC: The Chimabue's

crucifix was restored over a

ten-year time and it lost about

50% of its face.

When the work was restored it

became a symbol of resurrection,

it got to live again, it was

NARRATOR: Santa Croce is

restoring and protecting

treasures from future floods by


literally taken every piece

that's precious, and they have

hung it-or put it up so high,

they made sure that it-that if a

flood came, that they've got a

mechanism that it will even

raise these things up all the

way up so that they could never

ever be destroyed by the flood

NARRATOR: In the cloister

where flood waters reached 22

feet high...

Felicie de Fauveau's monument,

restored by advancing

women artists in 2013,

Today, Florence is a vibrant


It's charm lies in narrow

streets and impressive

architecture and art.

50 years later, the only

reminders of the flood are the

Antonia Bargollini still lives

in her family's home, it is

difficult to imagine it being

submerged in 22 feet of water.


up to the terrace?


up to that?

Those windows were all covered,


NARRATOR: Not far away,

photographer Nicholas

Swietlan Kraczyna is

now a distinguished professor at

Il Bisante School of Graphic


intentions of ever staying

forever in Florence but because

of the flood, because of what

happened and after the flood,

seeing the city reborn I felt at

All the detail there, and there

of course it transfers here.

LINDA: Amazing!

NARRATOR: Il Bisante was

submerged in the flood.

Florence's art community.

Another founder, art historian

Carlo Ludovico Ragghianti

worked with

Mayor Piero Bargollini to raise

worldwide public awareness to

the needs of Florentine cultural

One of Ragghianti's most

memorable initiatives was the

JANE FORTUNE: Once the flood

came, he put out a plea to the

international community, to have

people donate works of art to

the city.

He kind of played on flood.

But in doing that, he got a lot

LINDA FALCON: He wanted to

restore ancient art but he also

wanted to restore this city is

NARRATOR: The municipality of

notable works by men and women

from all over the world.

They came with different styles

and various levels of talent,

united by a single promise

their works

would one day become part of

Florence's International Museum

The women artists who donated

became known as flood ladies and

they helped Ragghianti stage

shows and auctions, but the

dream of a new museum soon faded

away And the works disappeared

It would be decades before those

JANE FORTUNE: One of the

museum directors came to us with

found by women and she didn't

know they were in her storage.

works of art by women.


NARRATOR: Jane fortune is the

founder of a global organization

known as advancing women

JANE FORTUNE: My quest is to

recuperate a vital part of

Florence's is unknown cultural

history and to

celebrate these invisible

women by making their works

NARRATOR: Florentines call her

Indiana Jane for her efforts to


get to see too many female


I think Jane has helped in a way

NARRATOR: Success has come

from building relationships

between women museum curators


create new attention of these

NARRATOR: Advancing women

artists is credited with making

visible dozens of works by women

But now the focus was on the

flood and writing a book about

the forgotten works of the

contemporary women artists known

Restoration of their work was

ROSSELLA LARI: They were on

display for a short period of

time at the Palazza Vecchio and

the Florentines, not everyone

had seen them and one of the

first things I said to Jane and

Linda when I first met them was


That's the best thing we could


NARRATOR: Before the flood

restoration was considered a

man's trade but now it's a field

dominated by women artists like

ROSSELLA LARI: Women restorers

can retain lots of tings in

their heads, not just a few and

they can grasp each and every

meaning, they can get the whole

reasons that we felt that we

should do this project is

because these pieces have not

been seen.

And they are a part of history

that relates to these 1966


And we felt that this was a

selfless giving part, giving on

their part.

And we just felt that their

LINDA FALCON: Who are these

women artists?

What do they contribute?

NARRATOR: The search for the

flood ladies revealed that only

a few were still living.

Most had left lively legacies in

wondrous places, like the

mountainous village of Anticoli

From the late 20's it was a

village of artists known for the

beautiful young women like

LINDA FALCON: She started her

career on the other side of

the canvas.

She started as a model when she

first started she was

an illiterate beautiful

young woman,

and her husband painted her for

the entirety of his life in all


She became educated and she

NARRATOR: Today many of

Pasquarosa's paintings are found

at the civic museum of modern

art here...managed in part by

women were more important and we

have to consider something else.

That the husbands would exhibit

through their wives work.

For example, my grandfather

caring more about his wife's


The two were an unbreakable

NARRATOR: Pasquarosa continued

to paint and after the flood,

was asked to donate her work.

"Dusty Miller" reflects her love

for flowers and fabrics and

LINDA FALCON: There were

Some of the greatest artists

working in Italy at the time


Pasquarosa was a grandmother

NARRATOR: The search for

surviving flood ladies led to

Amalia Charde Dupree's studio

LINDA FALCON: Amalia Dupree is

an 80-year-old sculptress.

She says women are more likely

to risk and if you look at

history, the women artists who

succeeded were willing to get

NARRATOR: During WWII, the

Germans commandeered Dupree's

home, used it as a headquarters

and systematically went about


conscious destruction

And since that moment she

began to use art as a way

NARRATOR: After the flood,

commissions for her work many

were religious in nature, many

with themes of motherhood and

Her gift to Florence is called


LINDA FALCON: And it's amazing

created is this woman with

her hands raised up in the air

holding a child.

NARRATOR: In Tivoli, just

outside of Rome, Fortune and

Falcone would encounter one of

the most remarkable, determined

GUIDI: Look how beautiful the

clay is to work, and the same

can be said about with the iron,

hard to believe, that looks

LINDA FALCON: One of the first

things I noticed about Stefania

is she is this tiny woman

with these tiny hands

and she is a sculptress.

And I said to

myself, that's what a sculptress

GUIDI: Look at the tools that

we have here: these are the


With this one you knead, look.

With this one you polish the

Well, now I think you can all go

Can you hear the different sound

from the wood, because I touched

the soul of the wood?

Instead you have to touch only

the bark!

JANE FORTUNE: There was a

piece out there that she had, I

guess, not worked on for a

little bit.

And she got all excited about

this piece.

She, I mean, all of a sudden,

you could just see the creative

juices, you know, turning in her


And she got her chisel and

started chiseling.

Here were all the pieces of wood

on the floor, all around her


And they wanted her to stop, and

I don't think she sleeps an

NARRATOR: Guidi is a Marquis'

Daughter, married to her

creative equal, composer Michele

Paradiso, together they live and

create in a countryside home

surrounded by more than 800 of


I am a sculptor and engraver.

I have dedicated my entire life

created so many works that every

time I look at them, I can see

LINDA FALCON: She is very

secure in her work as well.

She says I dare anyone to come

in here and look at these

sculptures and say and that leg,

she said it pointing to a

sculpure, I dare anyone to say

NARRATOR: There is energy in

every corner of this home.

JANE FORTUNE: They then said

we were staying, we had to stay

for lunch.

Well, lunch is this wonderful

family affair.

And you know, over there, family

is the most important thing.

And also the most important

thing is the matriarch, the

woman, the head.

And they had the family there,

and they had, they had more

food, I mean, they could have

fed an army with all the food

they gave us.

They only spoke Italian,

you knew what they were saying.

I mean, you literally knew what

the flood ladies donated

at least 40 pieces of art

to proposed museum, not all were

masterpieces, all expressed a

And what of the museum?

Forty-eight years later this

The long awaited museum of

1900's opened in 2014 in Santa

Maria novella's evocative

The advancing women artists'

foundation, whose mission is to

safeguard and promote art by

women, a still hidden part of

Florence's heritage.

Set about restoring 31 of the

donated works by women,

languishing in storage in the

Today these flood ladies are

regarded as some of the most

significant 20th century women

POALA TRIOSE: I was completely


So really for me it was a


RAIMONDA LEONE: Fiora, she was

really personable, all the

Florentine people, they love


Because she was always full of



funny so fantastic, she so


she'd often say 'I know, I know,

what would happen with my

In fact to be here, to have her

sculpture here is very

NARRATOR: When the world

answered, it did so with

PAOLA VOJNOVIC: The power of

this city is that people come

from all over the world and I

think when they can, they do

NARRATOR: The world's answer

brought scientific

discoveries and restoration

JANE FORTUNE: Everything we do

today is because of that flood

because what they found they

could do by everybody sharing

NARRATOR: When the world

answered it brought selfless

giving by artists...women

artists...whose work would be

rediscovered, restored and

celebrated in a new book and on

LINDA FALCON: It's not in the

end about institution it's about

people and when people decide to

give value to something they can

NARRATOR: When the

world answered it

brought a message of love for


artists will often learn what

they need to learn take from

Florence and leave.

I stayed and I not only took

from Florence but I gave to


I became one of the artists and

this is the place I feel at

And I think it was because I was

here at that moment of the

JANE FORTUNE: Florence really

awaked me to so many things.

It made me who I am today.

I left saying that I would

always, I would go back some day

and give back to that city in

some way.

I had no idea what that would


But it's turned into a much

larger project than I thought it

just had a profound effect on


And I think it does on most

ANNOUNCER: "When the World

Answered" is made possible

through the generous support of


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