Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Venezia - winter fairy tale

As I already told you I went to Venice/ Italy last week. My Mom and Stepdad invited my sister and me for their silver wedding anniversary. My Mom had always dreamed to spend this day with her husband and daughters in Venice.
The last time I was there was in September 1993 and I couldn't wait to go back and see the city in a new and winterly light.

One week before I left, Venice experienced the highest flood in 20 years. The water rose up 160 cm (63 inch) and 90 percent of the city was flooded. The Saint Marc's square - which is the lowest point of the city - and the entry hall of St. Marc's basilica were completely under water. You can imagine how scared I was that my trip might fall through.

We went anyway and our hotel was very well equipped for the case of flood. We all received a pair of rubber boots and an umbrella and were ready for the weathers to come. Sure enough we didn't have to wait long for another "acqua alta".
The first day was a sunny, crisp and cooooold day. The second day was overcast but a little warmer and the last 3 days it rained cats and dogs. 
We had a flood twice a day when the high tide came in. This sounds scarier than it actually was.  The flood only lasts for 2-3 hours and it wasn't as high as the week before. The canal along our hotel didn't make it over the rim and only very low streets were flooded. The city of Venice has catwalks for these areas that lead you from bridge to bridge. We honestly had a blast. It was very exciting and the Venetians are so calm about it. For them it's just routine. 
In case of a flood you will hear sirens throughout the city and the Venetians install their flood barriers in front of stores and front doors. The merchants clear the floors and bottom shelves of their stores and go home.

Here are some impressions - not only from the flood:

We arrived by airport bus at Piazzale Roma and took a vaporetto (water bus) along Canale Grande to S. Zaccaria. It was surely the best way to arrive in Venice. The Vaporetto tour takes about an hour and you see all the major sights, pass the famous Ponte di Rialto (Rialto bridge) and the St. Marc's square. It's a beautiful ride that brings you in the right mood right away.

Take care...


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