23 May 2024

Rain-soaked tourists in Venice were barred from an inundated St. Mark’s Square on Monday, as fierce winds and rains lashing much of the country drenched the floating city.

As local authorities said the “acqua alta” (high water) peaked at 156 centimetres (61 inches) by early afternoon, the elevated wooden platforms usually placed on main passageways in the Renaissance city were not enough to ensure safe passage in the low-lying square.

Families carried children on their shoulders through the surrounding streets. While some tourists donned thigh-high wellies, others had opted to take off their shoes and wade through the water.

The waters have only topped 150 centimetres five times before in recorded history. In 1966, when floods swept through the country, famously devastating Florence’s historic centre, the waters reached 194 centimetres in Venice.