A huge sinkhole over 500 feet long opened up in Florence on Wednesday morning, swallowing 20 cars parked along the Arno River. The collapse happened at 6:15am in the center of the tourist packed city, between Ponte Vecchio and Ponte Le Grazie.
Florentine Mayor, Dario Nardella, said the collapse was "very serious", but thankfully (more than likely due to the early morning hour), there were no injuries. Investigations suggest the sinkhole was caused by a large water main break, with the the water eroding part of the road. The area has been closed to traffic until the vehicles are removed and the surrounding road can be stabilized.
Sinkholes are common in Italy, particularly in the south where the geology is a karst structure well known to allow natural sinkholes to occur. Obviously, the sinkhole in Florence is a man made event. In Naples there have been many sinkhole events forcing people from their homes, while even in Rome and Catania trucks and cars have fallen victim--literally--to sinkholes. In general, the geology of Italy is ripe for caves, grottoes and sinkholes and people have been digging out tunnels under villages and cities alike for thousands of years for tombs, military protection, wells and storage.
In Italy, you never really know what's under your feet...
UPDATE: When viewing the video below to show my son Lucas, we noticed that three cars in the sinkhole actually have their rear windshield wipers on! This is an indication that there were people sitting in their cars when the street collapsed. Glad no one was hurt, but it was pretty funny to see those wipers going...