Venice was inundated by an exceptional high tide Monday, as much of Italy is under flood alert due to heavy rains.
Three-quarters of the lagoon city are under water. The city frequently floods when high winds push in water from the lagoon, but the actual levels are different. Tourists were asked to leave the historic St Mark's Square. Officials closed major tourist attractions in Rome, including the Colosseum and Roman Forum, early because of heavy rains. A such situation has only happened five times in recorded history. The Interior Ministry urged officials in storm-struck regions, about half of the country, to consider closing schools and offices for some days.
The public transport company closed the water taxi service due to the emergency. Tourists and residents navigated the streets with difficulty. Water levels exceeded the raised walkways normally erected in flooded areas of the city, forcing their removal. Hospitals were closed too throughout the city and people were advised not to leave their homes. Marathon runners were forced to wade through ankle-deep water but the runners persisted. The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, said a series of underwater barriers being erected in the lagoon, a project log overdue, would have prevented the situation. Shop owners used water pumps to try to protect their wares. The flooding was so extreme because of a strong low-pressure system that brought nasty weather to southern Europe.