Anybody who’s been to the seemingly floating city of Venice, Italy in the last few years has seen the precariously high levels of water, and heard the rumors of them rising right above street level.
While swimming your way around town might sound nice to some people, the unfortunate truth is that Venice can’t sustain itself as an inhabitable city if its base becomes submerged. The unexpected water levels have already closed more shops, cafes, schools, tourist attractions and other businesses this week, and it’s still expected to rise to 4.7 feet this week.
Locals have some experience finding the higher paths around the city when the high tides (called “acqua alta”), but the many visitors – who make up about 80% of the city’s population on an average day – find themselves lost in the middle of this struggle with nature. Hotels are going as far as to offer guests disposable rain boots to keep their feet dry, and popular tourist attractions like Ducal Palace and Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Venezia have kept their doors open against better advice.
In an effort to combine culture with catastrophe, the museum tweeted, “High tide? No problem if you are triton or a nereid! For the record: we are open, and we are waiting for you despite the adverse conditions.” But some places, such as St. Marks Square, are too drenched in high waters to make jokes. “Venice is a very beautiful city, and it becomes a very special place when the water level is high,” one Venetian resident shared after a lifetime in the city. “But apart from the beauty which this phenomenon gives to the city, there are real problems.”
Visitors have been sharing a slew of comments on social media, either trying to find the humor or hoping to bring more attention to the pressing issue of rising tides in the city, and the climate change that many people believe is causing it.
One user commented, “This morning the high water alarm woke Venice at 6:30am to warn of flooding peak three hours later. I usually associate climate change with dramatic catastrophe like hurricanes and forest fires but this is silent and creeping.”
Another did their best to enjoy the view after they concluded, “Guess I won’t be leaving the apartment for a while…”