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Acqua Alta!

Acqua Alta has sadly become an increasing feature of Venetian life, giving Venice its reputation for being a sinking city. Literally meaning ‘high water’ it is caused by high tides and can effect life in Venice severely. Here are a few tips for when you hear the Acqua Alta sirens.

  1. Wellies: Cheap and easily bought, these are an integral purchase in Venice. Be aware that the water can rise quite quickly, so even if the tide does not look high when you leave your apartment, by the time you leave a lecture or seminar it could be too high to go out in. You generally won’t need the special Acqua Alta wellies that have plastic covers up to the thigh, as it is easy to avoid particularly badly effected areas of the city.
  2. Sirens: Sirens sound roughly four hours before the floods are at their highest. They also indicate roughly how high the water will be. A single tone siren indicates only slight flooding, with higher water more notes are sounded. The Venetians are very good at predicting Acque Alte, so you usually have plenty of warning.
  3. Raised Walkways: Badly effected areas often have raised walkways set out so you don’t have to wade through water. They cover the most busy walkways and are easy to stick to. However, when walking to lectures and seminars there are areas covered in water, without a raised platforms to walk on.
  4. Saint Mark’s Square: As one of the worst hit places by high water is Saint Mark’s Square, it is definitely worth making a trip to the square during Acqua Alta. It is a rather striking and shocking image to see such a beautiful place submerged by floods.
  5. Venice in Peril: The Fund was created after the great floods of 1966 in Florence and Venice and raises money and awareness about Venice’s difficulty in maintaining the city’s well-being.

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