Tag: high water

High water in Venice: we try to do some clarity

A small introduction: I’m writing this article not to refresh notions studied during geography classes at the primary school, but just to give truthful information about the situation here in Venice after the high waters.
After the disastrous tides of last November and the less traumatic but nonetheless problematic ones of December, articles and news have circulated that have created a climate of terror among those who wanted to come and see the most beautiful city in the world in person, leading to the mass cancellation of a considerable portion of future visitors.


If you ask a Venetian the question: “What about the water?” the answer you will most likely get will be: “Six hours grows, six hours falls.”
The relationship of the Venetians with the lagoon and its tides is something that has lasted for hundreds of years, and it is as natural as breathing in a living body.

Piazza San Marco allagata, Vincernzo Chilone, 1825

Not so simple (of course) is for the tourist to understand this simple truth: no matter how the tide may rise, no matter how much damage and disasters, inconvenience and loss it may bring, it will ALWAYS decrease. In the worst case you can have two high tides with a low tide in the middle not very low, which can lead to have high water for a whole day, but in exceptional cases: after its time the water will naturally flow back to the sea.

Even in the case of the exceptional tide of November, 13th (187 cm above sea level), when the water reached its maximum, (I must say that it was a really considerable maximum, in the shop I had 60 cm of water inside and a small fish swimming) the tide began to flow out quite quickly, so that in a few hours it had completely disappeared from the streets.

In general anyway the tide is a good thing, it circulates water inside the lagoon and brings life, like blood inside the veins. It may happen that at certain times there is the possibility of water rising, and even a lot as we have seen, but it will always be a TEMPORARY situation.
High tides are a seasonal phenomenon, often occurring in November and December: don’t be afraid of the tide, like the Venetians who have always lived with it- the water won’t hurt you or drown you (don’t fall into the canal though!). All you need is a pair of rubber boots and you can almost always get around the city without too much trouble and enjoy an unusual view.

high water in Piazza San Marco

In case you are in Venice during an exceptional tide you will find a sheltered place or stay in your hotel room for a few hours, in the heat and shelter you will not suffer great privations, with running water and electricity you will not even notice what is happening outside.

As for the boots, please don’t buy the disposable ones sold by street vendors or peddlers, they don’t last long for what they cost and risk leaving you with your feet soaking when you least expect it, and often the temptation to leave them where they happen is strong (not to mention the garbage bags that many people use as ephemeral protection).
Keep in mind that everything you leave ashore during a high tide will be dragged into the canals by the runoff of the water. From there it will reach the lagoon and then the sea, and in the sea it will travel for decades (hundreds of years?) without anyone taking care of removing it, polluting forever the sea that is ours and yours and that we continue to love in all its forms, even after it has taken so much from us because of its most violent phenomena.

The sea

Come to Venice without any worries, you won’t regret it.
Venice hasn’t sunk yet!


Venice at the sunset

October, 29th: an ordinary day on an extraordinary high water

Do you see these people? Do you see them well? Good.
These people are idiots.

These people were photographed on November 11st, 2012 in St. Mark’s Square, when the high water in Venice reached 140 centimeters. These people are part of the vast majority of tourists who visit Venice every year thinking that it is not a city with its problems, its inhabitants, its dramas, but an amusement park where everything is “fake”, everything is fun and everything is legitimate because – as you often hear – “I pay to stay here”.

Another consideration: these idiots are bathing in dirty water, because maybe you don’t know it, but part of the sewers in Venice drain into the canals… and I assure you that that water smells like few things in the world!

I don’t want to be controversial with this blogpost: it wants to be simply the chronicle of what happened from my point of view on October 28th, 2018, when the water in Venice reached 160 centimeters (20 centimeters higher than the picture above). And I want to somehow inform people about some aspects of the high water that they may not know or have never thought about.
I would like to try to make many people understand that maybe they don’t know, or maybe they never thought about it, that for most of the people who live and work in Venice, a high water of these proportions is a real drama.

That’s why seeing tourists having fun taking pictures like the one I published above makes me feel angry: because it’s an unconscious mockery of people who suffer serious damage, both economic and even psychological. For example: while I had the shop completely flooded and I was desperately trying to save as much as I could, there were people outside who came by and wanted to take pictures of me.
I don’t think they’re tourists, they’re just jackals.
‘Cause I assure you that seeing your own laboratory, your own shop, your own house invaded by the water is certainly not a pleasure.
I felt awful when I saw that all the measures I had taken to combat this phenomenon had failed.

But first things first.

The high water alarm had begun several days before, when the tide forecast service had announced a very sustained high water for the day 28th in the afternoon. The day before I lifted all the materials that are usually placed on the floor and those that were at a lower level.
One thing has to be taken into account: I have two bulkheads (one for the front door and one for the door to the back yard) and a pump that “spits” out the water when it reaches a certain level and that for the “normal” high waters allows me to stay relatively quiet. The problem, however, is that after a certain measure (around 115 centimeters, so almost every time there is high water!) the high water starts to rise from the floor …! However, for such high waters there are only many annoyances but not real damages.

Below is a photo-story of what happened that day.

The day before I prepared everything: I lifted everything up to protect the materials.

Ocober, 29th: the water starts to grow…

The water level exceeds the shop window and comes dangerously close to the edge of the bulkhead. The water comes from the floor.

At this point it’s really too close, the sirocco wind continues to blow and it’s a moment: the water passes the bulkhead, enters the studio and invades everything. The bulkhead is no longer needed, the pump is no longer needed: there is no longer any difference between inside and outside.  Things at a lower level begin to float and go around the store.

Even the courtyard behind was flooded, submerging and ruining my beloved plants that I had unnecessarily placed above some wooden elevations

The tide usually grows for 6 hours and then decreases for the next 6 hours. This time, due to adverse weather conditions (especially the strong sirocco wind), the tide has decreased very little, so that the minimum was around 130 centimeters. And during the evening it came back high again. Luckily then, after midnight, the wind lost strength and the water began to fall, leaving behind only dirt and a very bad smell (…and think that some people take a bath in it!).

The back yard was a disaster too

It took almost three days to clean, disinfect and dry everything. A very hard job, and I realize that I am very lucky because I have not suffered serious damage. There are many shopkeepers and craftsmen with electrical machinery who have suffered irreparable damage, economic damage and now have to start again by investing money: this high water is not fun, it is a misfortune

This testimony of mine does not want to be absolutely a way to out-mourn or self-celebrate: I just want to try to make those who do not know the phenomenon of high water understand what’s really behind something that to many may seem funny, but that actually only involves damage and days of hard work.

I take this opportunity to say hello to all of you who may have learned something from this blogpost and to all the artisans of Venice who do not give up.


PS: To take out Bic, my dog who’s always with me in the studio, to do his evening “needs” I had to take him in my arms and find a place high enough where he could walk and not swim… what a feat! And he wasn’t very happy either… 🙂