Venice in Acqua Alta: Live From Piazza San Marco

High Water at High Noon: Keep Your Balance in St. Mark’s Square – or Go for a Paddle!

Acqua Alta” is Italian for “High Water“, and when a big tide comes into Venice’s lagoon, that’s exactly what you get in Piazza San Marco and many pedestrian streets. Fortunately, it usually only happens from autumn to spring, and the city fathers set up a network of gangways (wide wood planks on iron supports) to help people get around, but in busy areas this can make for some exciting balancing acts… tweet

“Well, here we are in St. Mark’s Square in Acqua Alta. Actually it’s not so bad, and the punters seem to be having a lot of fun, as you can see. I’ll just give you a sweep round here. You’ll see the Clock Tower and right up there it’s pretty much under water, but it’s only six inches deep, so nothing serious. In fact, everyone pretty’s good-humoured at the moment.

“Helen unfortunately is in very light shoes and so she’s hovering over here, but the orchestra’s playing on. As you’ll see everywhere is flooded, and I’m at the farthest point which is dry, well, rather, half an inch deep.

Trying to find a way around, but inevitably an epic fail

“Well, here’s the Clock Tower, current time about quarter to one in the afternoon. Behind the scenes here in the Merceria, that street there, you can get chaos as people continually zip down each alley trying to find a way around, and of course failing, as you can see.

Coffee drinkers are ankle deep

“Ah, at last I’ve found Helen, who’s busy shooting the orchestra which seems unfortunately to have stopped at the moment, just when I want to record it. They’re definitely dedicated these waiters. As you can see, there’s a certain element of moisture when it comes to having a quiet coffee this morning, here in the finest living room or drawing room or whatever you want to call it, in Europe.

Dedicated waiters in wellington boots

“I’d love to do one of those classic reflection shots, but unfortunately the waters are too rippled from everyone wading in it, so forget that. And here comes a waiter, balancing a tray of drinks, so let’s go in and have a look at just how good these guys are. Very cleverly, knowing how filthy the water is, they are wearing wellington boots. Now, there’s dedication to service.

Nothing fazes the souvenir sellers

“Well, it’s getting a bit steamy now, so with a last look at St Mark’s, the tourists, the sellers – who are still here right in the middle of the water, nothing fazes them – I’m going to retreat to dry land to Helen who is rather tired of dodging puddles of water in her very light shoes. See you later.”

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