Oh, the water is high, I can't cross o'er…

7:10 a.m…it’s a 5-siren, acqua alta morning.

Acqua Alta Casa2 It’s the first time I’ve heard the sirens this winter, in fact, which is a bit unusual (I remember hearing sirens for days in a row before this time last year) but welcome. Peak was forecast for today is 120 cm (1 meter, 20 cm), due before noon. Thought I’d try to make it to the market before then, but I can already see the water’s up over the external door jams on the rio below…

By 11:45, the water had reached 130 cm, which means about 65-70% of the surface area of Venice would be submerged. I’m sure they were thigh-, if not hip-deep around San Marco, the lowest point in the city…they certainly were that when the level peaked at 162 cm last year about this time, an exceptionally high tide (the passarelle were simply washed away). I suppose that’s why they’re on a five-year mission to raise the molo and repair the drainage under the Piazza.

Acqua Alta Casa1 From this photo, you can see why there would be no boat traffic on the rio today, and on the one above, that the water had completely submerged the fondamenta, right up to the Misericordia bridge.

barriera I avoided the whole thing myself, come una principessa, by working at home this morning, but the poor man who made a trip from Mestre didn’t have that luxury. A dear and thoughtful friend of mine in Florence sent me a plant for my birthday, and for some Italian reason this far-too-disciplined florist thought it was critical that he brave the flood and deliver it today! When I ran down to meet him on the stairway he looked so forlorn, it just broke my heart. He had the requisite Wellingtons on…but it made no difference, as he had had to trudge through water that was too deep for them, evidenced by his damp pant legs. Poor dear! Why this man didn’t call and see if he could bring the silly plant later that day, or the next day, or the next, I have no idea. I offered him a caffè, but he declined, and breathed a heavy sigh before he headed back to face the return trip, murmuring as he went.

wellies For travelers, it’s fascinating experience; for working Venice, it’s a big pain in the hoo-hah.

When I finally ran out at about 6p to the fresh market at San Leonardo for some last minute produce, all that remained were damp, glowing walkways, illuminated by enticing, aromatic shops, and filled with energetic shoppers, locals and visitors alike. I managed to get back with only produce, and not a new winter coat for which I have no available funds. A near miss.

The forecast doesn’t look nearly as dramatic for the rest of the week, meno male. I did subscribe to the SMS notification when the forecast 110 cm or above; I assume the message will arrive before the siren warning. You can also have them notify with a recorded message.

If you’d like to keep up, Veniceword is a good English source for weather and sea level forecasts, and has links to the Italian ones.

Img 1634-1 p.s. Don’t worry about bringing boots to Venice. Any hotel, B&B and apartment will be well-provisioned should the need arise (certainly no inhabitant is without one, and probably two pair…only black or green though, probably).

Monday, 9:35 a.m., 5 sirens…

4 thoughts on “Oh, the water is high, I can't cross o'er…

  1. Cheryl

    Nan, the flowers will come with or without high water. He was determined to get them to you, and he did his job well. Great to talk to you, and thanks for having me before the Rain Drops Fell on My Head. Ciao!

  2. Gia

    A friend of mine got trapped in her hotel room last month and when I was there 2 springs ago I did not want to buy the waders and ended up in wet tennis shoes and with wrinkled toes at the end of the day.


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