Friday, December 3, 2010

Acqua Alta in Venice

There are certain sacrifices you make when travelling to Venice in November and December.  For us, we don't have a problem with the weather (cold and rain) if it means less tourists and easier access to site-seeing with a minimum of hustle and bustle.  And seeing we are here in late autumn and the beginning of winter, it also means Acqua Alta time.

Doge's Palace

Before we came to Venice we knew our apartment was in an area prone to flooding.  We knew there would be a flood barrier at the front door and we were told to leave it on at all times.  The downside is that we have to jump over it every day but the upside is the place doesn't flood!

For the past three weeks, we've only had a little bit of water to contend with.  We hear the sirens (often in the early hours of the morning) and then listen out for the rising tones.  When we first arrived the tones were level, usually repeated four to five times.  In the earlier part of the trip, we thought the number of times it was repeated was indicative of flooding levels.  Until we heard the rising tones.  We've had a couple of two tones, but this morning at 5.15am the siren went off and there were four tones, which I believe is the maximum.  Yep, it was going to be a biggie today!

We're based in Rio Marin canal in San Croce. Even when we hear two tones, the water levels outside our apartment aren't too bad. The water is above the canal for a while and then subsides. By the time we leave for the day, a good pair of boots or walking shoes is sufficient to get around.

Until today. Unfortunately I haven't been able to acquire a good pair of gum boots or "wellies" due to my enormous calves! (The less I say on that one the better!) I tried on a few when we first got here - but we feared they would cut off my circulation! And then when we realised we didn't have to worry about the tides that much, we stopped looking. When we hear the sirens and the tones, we simply work out the areas least affected by flooding and go there.

A little acqua alta to start your day

But this morning, after the four tones, we knew it was going to be a different day. You could hear the SLOSHING noises very loudly and it was soo unique. Slosh Slosh Slosh. Those with high gumboots or the waders are still getting around. Mind you, I had to laugh when I saw children being carried. Oh and dogs. The poor little things would drown at the current water levels. So they are being carried around. Looks very sweet.

Acqua Alta

I'm just glad we aren't leaving Venice this morning. The thought of carrying our bags instead of rolling them across the sidewalks (see earlier blog post on "the sounds of Venice"!!!) filled us with dread.  Afterall we've done A LOT of shopping!  Luckily for me, most of it consists of light weight presents - jewellery, scarves, CDs, pens etc.  Oh, drats, forgot the books.  There's one or two of them.  Oh, and the painting we picked up.  Hmmm.  Needless to say we are praying it's not Acqua Alta when it's our turn to leave!  Praying. Hard!