ExperiencePlus! Blog

Post-flood update: mud, devastation, and perseverance

images of flooding faenza, italy

On May 16 and 17, historic rains — 20 inches in 36 hours —  caused massive and destructive flooding throughout Emilia’s Romagna’s Ravenna, Forli and Cesena provinces and the town of Faenza. Thousands of people have been displaced as their homes were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of acres of fields were flooded.

Fortunately, our headquarters in Faenza — the base from which we deploy all of our operations for ExperiencePlus! cycling trips in Europe, and for trips run by our sister company BikesPlus! — was not impacted. Amazingly, we have only had to reroute a couple of days on a few upcoming tours.

However the lives of three of our staff were dramatically affected by the flooding as was La Vecchia Faenza, a local ceramics workshop that we have visited on tours for almost 40 years. The abundant clay soil that gave birth to the tradition of ceramics in Faenza washed into the flood waters. When the water retreated, a thick muddy sludge remained.

Recovery from the flood damage is financially tricky since comprehensive insurance is not common in Italy (apparently 90% of Italians do not have any insurance that would cover these damages). It is unclear what support will come from government and other entities.

We invite you to donate to any one of the following three giving opportunities that for us have very personal relevance. The strength, perseverance and hope of the “Romagnolo” people during this time of extreme misfortune has been incredible to witness.

Thank you so much for the outpouring of concern for our team.
– Monica and Maria Elena

Support ExperiencePlus & BikesPlus Staff

Although our office and warehouse were not touched by flood water, Stefania (staff) and Ilaria (tour leader) lost most of their belongings as their houses were fully immersed. Silvia (staff) lost her car and had extensive building damage to her condo complex.

For those who have traveled to this region on our trips, our old headquarters known as the “farm” was surrounded by flood waters but was not damaged and in fact now is housing a number of people who were displaced, including Stefania and her husband (and cat!).

With this fundraiser we hope to reach our greater community to help Silvia, Stefania and Ilaria with some of the expenses related to household repairs.

Go Fund Me: Support Stefania, Silvia and Ilaria

Support La Vecchia Faenza

For anyone who has cycled around Faenza on the Venice to Pisa trip or on our Culinary tours, we likely took you to learn about the local ceramics at a workshop that we have been visiting for almost 40 years – La Vecchia Faenza.

The Suzzi/Silvagni family has been painting ceramics for over 50 years and both their stores were completely flooded during the recent floods, destroying their kilns, art materials, equipment and workshop. Elisa, the daughter of Mr. Suzzi is now carrying on the family tradition and she has created a fundraiser to help them get back to work.

Fundraiser details on the Go Fund Me page appear first in Italian, then in English. Just scroll down.

Go Fund Me: La Vecchia Faenza

Support Faenza Ceramic Artisans & Culture

The City of Faenza has created an emergency fundraising initiative to help area ceramic artisans recover from flooding that damaged laboratories, workshops, studios and warehouses with entire collections. Donations are being accepted via bank transfer and Paypal.

Support Faenza ceramic artisans