The Acqualta of 2019

Wrecked taxi in central Venice

The next-highest high water — acqualta — ever measured in Venice happened on this day in 2019.

On the evening of the 11th the water rose dramatically, and much more than forecast, until it reached a level of 187cm around midnight. That is enough to flood around 90% of the city.

In comparison, a normal high tide remains in the 80-90cm range.

When the water was at its highest, it was thigh deep in most areas of Venice. These photos are from that evening in and around the Via Garibaldi in Castello.

The next morning revealed the full scale of the devastation.

There was debris all over, and as the shopkeepers started cleaning their premises, the piles of destroyed and damaged goods grew outside the shops.

As is often the case, sustained strong winds from a south-eastern direction pushes up the tide, and November 12th was no exception. That same wind pushed boats, even large boats, up on the flooded Riva degli Schiavoni, where they remained when the tide temporarily receded.

The acqualta on November 12th caused damages for tens of millions of euros. As if that weren’t bad enough, the high tides continued for an entire week. In the days following, the tide reached levels over 140cm several times.

The photos below are from November 17th.

Naturally, the Italian state declared a natural calamity, and promised help to the shopkeepers and small business owners who had suffered damage from the repeated high tides.

However, promises are cheap, and the money hasn’t been paid out yet, four years on.


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