Italian PM leads tributes to the ‘angels of the mud’

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday led tributes to Florence's Angels of the Mud, the volunteers who rescued the city's artistic treasures from devastating floods, 50 years ago.

Italian PM leads tributes to the 'angels of the mud'
The angeli del fango came from across the world and asked for no pay for their work. Photo: Florence Art News
Speaking at a reception for veterans of the 1966 operation, Renzi said the 10,000 mainly young volunteers who came from all over the world were still a source of inspiration.
“Your optimism and your energy leads us to look to the future with enthusiasm,” said Renzi, a former mayor of the city.
Friday's ceremonies marked exactly 50 years since the Arno river burst its banks, flooding the city and surrounding areas in a disaster that left at least 34 people dead.
When the waters receded, vast fields of mud were left and every town house, church and museum had been completely saturated, sometimes up to the first floor.
But thanks to the efforts of the volunteers, thousands of paintings and millions of books were cleaned up and saved for future generations.  
Among the artworks submerged by the flood was a giant tableau, “The Last Supper”, by Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574).
Its restoration to its full glory has only recently been completed and it was due to be returned to its original home in the Basilica of Santa Croce on Friday, as a symbolic celebration of the remarkable display of cultural

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British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man found dead in a hotel room in Florence was named by Italian media on Sunday as British former rugby league player Ricky Bibey.

British man found dead in Florence hotel named as ex-rugby league player

A man was found dead on Saturday in the Hotel Continentale after a woman he was with cried out for help, according to unconfirmed media reports.

Italian news outlets have identified the victim as Ricky Bibey, a two-time Challenge Cup winner with Wigan Warriors and St Helens. Police have yet to confirm the dead man’s identity.

Super League tweeted it was “saddened to hear of the passing of Ricky Bibey”.

“We thank Ricky for his contributions to the game and send our condolences to Ricky’s family and friends during this time”.

A maid rushed in to find the 43-year old woman bleeding heavily from serious injuries, and she was rushed to hospital, La Nazione daily newspaper said.

Bibey, 40, appeared to have died of a heart attack, it said.

Other guests at the Continentale, just next to the Tuscan city’s famous Ponte Vecchio bridge, reportedly heard shouts coming from the room.

Police seized objects including items possibly used in an erotic game, La Nazione said.