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.
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.
#Breaking: Just in – unprecedented rainfall in #Italy in #Venice brings normal life to a halt for locals and tourists! The sea level has risen a lot in the past 2 days that hotels and other places are being flooded and submerged. pic.twitter.com/OeLbbMv49J
— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) November 12, 2019
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.
2nd biggest flooding in #Venice history tonight. Reached 187cm. And another high tide is expected tomorrow. We had 30 cm of water insider our home. Probably lost our fridge but some lost much more. People were seen crying. We need action#Venezia #AcquaAlta #hightide pic.twitter.com/UCSJuysG1h
— Valeria Duflot☘🌐 (@DuflotValeria) November 13, 2019
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.”
▶️ Tourists and Venetians trudge through high water that has hit much of the city.
👉 Venice's tide forecast office said the water level peaked at 1.27 meters Tuesday morning. (AP) pic.twitter.com/ieq1Gj5dkw
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) November 12, 2019
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.