It was a cold, wet day and I had arrived in Venice quite unprepared for the high waters that greeted me. It had not occurred to me to bring rubber boots. A big mistake!
As I watched, the waters of the canals rose, lapping over the sides and into the narrow streets. In many places elevated platforms on steel legs were erected forming busy walkways and yellow plastic over-boots were for sale in many outlets.
The Venetians, accustomed to the high tides which normally occur between October and March, were shod in the smartest rubber boots imaginable. Most of them looked like riding boots, slim and high, into which the fashion-conscious Venetian ladies tucked their skinny jeans.
Acqua alta means, literally, “high water” in Italian. High tide forecasts are announced to the Venetians via the Internet and local newspapers.
The MOSE project (Modulo Sperimentale Electtromeccanico) is under construction and consists of giant flaps hinged onto the seabed between the lagoon and the Adriatic Sea. When completed, these will be raised in the event of an exceptionally high tide in order to reduce its effects.
Life carried on as normal for the few short hours of acqua alta. Many of the shops and cafes were using suction pumps to get rid of the water which had encroached their premises, though customers walked in and out unperturbed, without appearing to notice the slightest inconvenience.
Having sloshed around the waters of Venice in my bright new yellow over-boots for a couple of hours, I was happy to see the waters subside as I headed for some cicchetti and a welcome ombra.