Four years ago, after my first year in University, one of my university friends and I toured the north of Italy together. During that trip, we got the chance to visit Venice – only we couldn’t afford to stay in the city, so we only spent about 8hrs there. In those 8 hours, I fell in love – in all my travels, I have never found a city like Venice. It is basically a labryth with canals and filled with history. Even more – it is one of the only city I have been to where the buildings actually look their age. You can visibly see the wear and tear of the years on the buildings, you can even see the wear and tear from where the water level erodes the marble and wood. Like I said – there is no other city like Venice.
One of the most unique things about the city is the fact that it is actually sinking. The last time I visited, while exploring the main square, I was shocked – the water level had risen so high that the city had put out walking planks in the main square. There was at least a foot of water, and the only way to get around the square was to walk on the wooden pathways erected above the water. Even at 23 years old with 27 countries under my belt, I have never seen anything like it.
For those interested (aka my nerdy self), the exact reason why Venice is sinking is as follows:
Venice is sinking because the Adriatic plate underneath the city is subducting beneath the Apennines Mountains due to plate tectonics and the slow compaction of the sediments that support the city. One or both of these processes is also causing a slight tilt of the city to the East.
Multiple times every year, the city will have to erect such walkways in a large portion of the city in order for people to move around. Even cooler – when you look at the buildings, many have bars over the windows of the first floor, often not using it, because the water level can rise high enough that the first floor will flood. The only other city I could compare this to is Amsterdam (literally called ‘Little Venice’ in Europe because they are so similar), but in Amsterdam they use a series of gates to prevent flooding. Side note: Venice is attempting to implement such a system to prevent flooding in the future.
Thankfully, my current visit to Venice was met with beautiful weather and no flooding – for the first two days. But the third day (today) you could visibly see the water level rising. I have two reactions to this – first, I am super thankful that the water held off for the days my family and I were wondering the city; second, I am super happy the water level started getting high so I could show my parents what I meant when I talked about having to walk on boards to get around the main square the last time I was here.
For those who didn’t get to see (anyone who isn’t my mom and dad), here are some pictures: