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Aqua Alta

November 6, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Venice shouldn’t be there. No one with any sense would build a city surrounded by the sea on sand barely above water level. Except when the world collapses around you and pretty much stays that way for five hundred years.

That’s what happened with the Fall of Rome in the west. But, that fall spawned the most beautiful city in the world and a merchant republic that thrived for a thousand years, never once successfully invaded. Not to mention that people at all levels of Venetian society were better off and treated more fairly more of the time than in any other place on earth. For a thousand years.

One of the many things that made building and living in Venice difficult was the Aqua Alta, high water. When it happens, a good part of the city floods, sometimes thigh-deep. And, it happens about a dozen times a year, when wind, tide and river flow align to push much more water than usual water into the great lagoon.

(Click here to see a larger image)

After more than a millenium, the Venetians treat it as normal. In the famous Hotel Danieli, I’ve even seen tuxedoed staff with their pantlegs rolled up blithely going about their duties in the opulent lobby during one of these high-water events.

Visitors are another story. A good fraction of them ignore the likely contaminants in the water and wade bootless into it, just to say they did.

(Click here to see a larger image)

For the others, who are less interested in that form of ‘Occupy Venice’ demonstration, the city kindly erects portable, elevated walkways across the flood zone. The surfaces of these narrow platforms are packed solid and traffic moves as slow as the oldest, most feeble person. Sometimes, the manners there can be as lame as the sweatsuits, ballcaps and fanny packs so many think are appropriate attire. People get bumped off quite often. Sadly, they are mostly not the ones who deserve it.

I did get a chance to help Lady Justice out once, though. He weighed maybe 150. I’m around 220. Good times.  

Aqua Alta can also be a great photo op. I hope you agree.

  1. November 6, 2011 at 6:02 am

    I agree…it does make for a good photo op. I have only experienced aqua alta once and thankfully only met polite people while on the walkways.

    • November 6, 2011 at 9:11 am

      Glad you had a safe experience. The walkway baddies really are a rarity. My bride says I notice them much more because I’m tall enough to see over the crowd. So, I tend to notice what happens across hundreds of feet of walkway. In a lot of situations, I often find myself asking her, “Did you see that?” when I should know that she couldn’t possibly have done. Hope you get another chance soon to be in Venice, Aqua Alta or not!

  2. November 6, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Great photos!

  3. November 12, 2011 at 7:53 am

    I love the second photo! How did you that? 🙂

    • November 12, 2011 at 8:08 am

      Thanks! In Piazza San Marco, the buildings are four stories tall. The upper stories were sunlit. So, I aimed the shot down into the water but focused on the young lady wading in her boots at the top of the frame. Hope that explains it.

  1. November 14, 2011 at 7:37 am

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