Venice: Acqua Alta

March 30, 2015 / Local Interest
Venice, Veneto
Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (4)

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!

Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (3)

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.

Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (6)
Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (7)

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.

Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (11)

Acqua alta means, literally, “high water” in Italian. High tide forecasts are announced to the Venetians via the Internet and local newspapers.

Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (1)

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.

Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (8)

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.

Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (10)
Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (9)

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.

Italian Notebook l Acqua Alta l ornaoreilly (12)

by Orna O’Reilly

Orna is a former interior designer who practised in South Africa, Mozambique and Ireland. Now writing full time, she moved from Ireland to the Veneto area of Italy in 2013.

She writes her way around Italy by blogging about it (at Ornasite) and is currently writing a novel set in Venice. You can follow her tweets @OrnaOR, and her Travel & Design page on FB.

4 Responses to “Venice: Acqua Alta”

  1. larry Naddeo

    We encountered the same conditions when we were there. The shop keepers installed metal gates in the doorways to keep the water out. We had to leave a coffee shop through the kitchen and out a back door to higher ground.

    Reply
  2. Penny Ewles-Bergeron

    A lovely note, Orna. Though I haven’t sloshed about in acqua alta season, I have braved snow and bitter winds in Venice. But, as your splendid pictures show, it remains a stylish and gorgeous place, whatever the weather!

    Reply
  3. Anstell Ricossa

    I was “baptized” with ” Acqua Alta” on our first visit…..just made our visit even more interesting – loved the city so much we have returned many times, and always marvel at the beauty of it all ! It is truly enchanting !

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Anstell Ricossa

Click here to cancel reply.