News World Venice floods: Romantic city confronts highest tide in 50 years
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Venice floods: Romantic city confronts highest tide in 50 years

Tourists walk in high water in Piazza San Marco, as the high tide, or acqua alta, grips Venice. Photo: Getty
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It’s renowned as Italy’s floating city. But the romantic Italian tourist hub of Venice has instead found itself literally submerged, after it was struck by the highest tide in more than half a century.

Tourists ditched their usual glamorous attire for functional gumboots and ponchos to navigate around the city’s extensive network of canals as the “acqua alta,” or high waters, peaked at a height of 1.87 metres.

The waters peaked at a height of 1.87 metres — the second-highest tide in recorded history. Photo: Getty

Alleyways normally dotted with tables primed for an aperitif were instead stowed away, and locals and tourists opted for raised walkways, over pathways that had simply washed away.

It’s the second highest tide since records began in 1923.

The only other time waters crept higher was when Venice confronted a catastrophic 1.94-metre tide in 1966.

The raised water level also swept its way through some of the city’s noted tourist landmarks.

The Gritti Palace’s opulent bar, which counts Ernest Hemingway and Elizabeth Taylor among its guests, was completely sodden.

The famed Ducal Palace tweeted that it’s “open today, despite the exceptional tide,” but advised visitors to use raised walkways to enter its hallowed spaces.

Photos and social media footage captured around the city show numerous boats and water taxis stricken in narrow laneways, left stranded by receding floodwaters.

Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro quickly declared a city-wide state of emergency, and blamed the devastation on climate change.

“We’re currently facing an exceptionally high tide. Everyone has been mobilised to cope with the emergency,” Mr Brugnaro tweeted.

“It will be a long night.”

Emergency services will soon start to assess the damage, with many of the city’s cafes, stores and hotels set to incur major costs to fix the mess.

However, any hopes of an immediate reprieve have been dashed, with Italy expected to field several more days of horrendous weather.

A room in the flooded Gritti Palace is pictured during an exceptional "Alta Acqua" high tide water level on November 12, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding.
People walk across the flooded Piazza San Marco square during an exceptional "Alta Acqua" high tide water level on November 12, 2019 in Venice. - Powerful rainstorms hit Italy on November 12, with the worst affected areas in the south and Venice, where there was widespread flooding. Within a cyclone that threatens the country, exceptional high water were rising in Venice, with the sirocco winds blowing northwards from the Adriatic sea against the lagoons outlets and preventing the water from flowing back into the sea. At 22:40pm the tide reached 183 cm, the second measure in history after the 198 cm of the 1966 flood. (Photo by Marco Bertorello / AFP) (Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images)

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