Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Venice and the Aqua Alta

We didn't get many good photos of Venice on this trip. I think we have much better shots from our earlier visits. But this time we witnessed something we hadn't before--Venice during aqua alta or high water.

You might expect that the frequent flooding Venice experiences between late September and April is due to its sinking. But although Venice is sinking at about 0.5 to 1 millimeter per year, the aqua alta occurs more frequently now because of rising sea levels. Water gates designed to help protect the city during the high tides are supposed to be operational next year. If they work, I know a lot of merchants who will be happy.

Here's what Venice looked like the day we arrived.

People were still feeding pigeons at San Marco, even though that's now illegal, and you can be fined. (I'm secretly glad they still do, partly because I'm a bit of a rebel, and partly because I like pigeons.)

But the next day, there were other birds in the square.

Shopkeepers had to sweep water out of their stores.  And vendors switched to selling plastic boots in bright colors of orange, teal, and yellow. (See the orange ones below.)

In low areas, such as at San Marco, people got around on catwalks.  Even at our hotel, the last day, the desk clerk told us to come back and get our bags by 11 a.m. if we didn't want to have to wade for them!

The rain created a soft light that made Venice look both pale and  slightly overdone, like an old actress with powdered skin and a little too much rouge.

I liked this soft-focused photo of Kevin looking out on the rain, but it makes me feel cold, remembering how the damp got into our clothes.

We didn't do a lot in Venice on this trip, because we were still suffering from our colds. The Venice Biennale, the art exhibition that Venice hosts every two years was going on while we were there, and we did manage to catch an exhibit or two, but mostly we just enjoyed wandering the old city.

I still love Venice--I think it is the most romantic city on earth--but I have to admit that I like it better in the sunshine, without the aqua alta, and without as many tourists.

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