Historical High Tide in Venice – Aqua Granda and Aqua Grandissima

Venice is a completely submerged city. There is no more Piazza San Marco. There are no calli, no campielli. The foundations that run along the canals look like stones from Atlantis. The sea has entered the lagoon. It has risen to a level never reached before, if not in 1966, when there was the tremendous Aqua Granda of 194 centimeters.

On November 4, 1966, at the same time, a series of anomalous events occurred, consisting of high tide, rivers swollen by heavy rains and a strong sirocco wind that caused the rise of the water of the canals of Venice up to an unprecedented height of 194 cm above the sea level. Although Venice is well known for the phenomenon of high water, during which the waters of the lagoon invade the streets of the city, this disastrous flood left many residents homeless and caused several billion lire of damage not only to buildings and businesses and tourism throughout the city, but especially to the artistic and cultural heritage of Venice.

At 10:50 p.m. on November 12, 2019, a date that will be included in the statistics for the next half century, the hydrometers at Punta della Salute, on the side of the Grand Canal, stopped 187 centimeters above the middle sea. Seven centimetres less than the tragic record of 53 years ago. A 78-year-old man died electrocuted on the island of Pellestrina, one of the languages of land that divide Venice from the sea. The death of the old man would have been caused by an electric short circuit triggered by the tide that had entered his house. Another person has life during the violent storm probably due to natural causes.

The mild Adriatic, driven by gusts of wind from one hundred kilometers per hour, showed all the fragility of Venice. It took over the shops and ground floors of the houses, floated the walkways and garbage, the tables of the bars and chairs. In a game of illusionism, he leveled everything, giving the impression that the buildings had been shortened, that the roofs of the buildings and churches had been lowered by two metres, that he had reached indefensible windows, that he had passed useless gates, that he had once again altered the extraordinary balance that has allowed Venice to exist until now.

Not even the best writers would be able to convey the pain, anger, bewilderment, fear, all that range of feelings that only those who live there, in Venice, only those who have chosen it for its uniqueness or were born there, can really feel. Only those who are rooted in this place like the trunks that for centuries have been the foundations of the most beautiful city in the world know and feel what really happened. But none of us will ever find the words to tell it.

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