Record Venice Floods Halt Tourism

December 8, 2008 | By | Reply More
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Poor wet, cold, soggy Venice!!! “Anyone thinking of coming should think again”, exclaimed Venice Mayor, Massimo Cacciari, last week after devastating flood waters streamed into the city.  Water rose to over 5 feet above sea level, the highest point in more than 20 years, submerging homes, shops, historic monuments are precious artwork alike.  An ill timed national transit strike only compounded an already challenging situation.  Many shopkeepers and restaurant owners living outside the city couldn’t reach their establishments to remove goods to higher ground and upper shelves.  Everyone was encouraged to stay inside and send a text message if they needed help.  Hotels were obliged to turn off all gas and electricity as the waters seeped in, returning Venice to the soft glow of candle lit interiors of centuries past.  Very romantic perhaps, but definitely a challenge to proprietors.  ‘Anyone got a can of sterno to brew up some coffee?!!’ 

Like most pubic works projects around the globe, the proposed grand flood gates designed to hold back storm surges has come under criticism of late for budget over-runs and delayed schedules.  If there was ever any doubt about the need of those gates RIGHT NOW, it has been put to rest.  The project is expected to cost over $5 billion dollars and will be completed in 2012.

Will Venice be able to wait four more years without relief from the raising flood waters? Will global warming and the raising of the sea levels bring higher surges into the city?  – Not a pretty situation.  I keep thinking of Louisiana all flooded, and all that moldy plaster that had to be ripped out – does that not happen in Venice where it floods over and over again?  I guess as tourists we’re not supposed to think about the behind the scenes realities and growing challenges of preserving a floating city.

So what does this mean to you the traveler? Well, first off, I wouldn’t plan a Venice sojurn during the rainy, stormy winter months unless you invest in a flashy new pair of knee high rubber galoshes.  Secondly, I would put a stop in Venice on my itinerary in the spring or fall when the tourist crowds are thinner and you will actually be able to see and enjoy the incomparable beauty of the city.  Let’s hope modern engineers can figure out a way to bring the gradual destruction of Venice to a halt once and for all!  If you haven’t visited Venice yet, put it on your action list before the waters rise any higher.

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Category: Featured, Italy Travel Tips