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Venice resident Camilla Purdon recounts the dramatic events of the most recent acqua alta and how you can help the lagoon city recover


On the night of Tuesday 12th November 2019 Venice was hit by a flood that engulfed 85 per cent of the city and prompted the Italian government to declare a state of emergency. As 100 km/h winds drove raging waters from the Adriatic into the lagoon, alleyways were transformed into torrents, boats were hurled ashore and walls shattered under the force of the waves. All over the city, water surged into buildings as the tide rose to 187 cm above sea level – making this the second worst flood in the city’s history, eclipsed only by the infamous Acqua Granda of 1966. When Luca Zaia, President of the Veneto region, assessed the situation the next day, he described it as an “apocalyptic disaster”.


The flooding had done immeasurable damage to the structural integrity of many of the city’s historic buildings, including the great Byzantine Basilica of St Mark, where cascades of corrosive sea water gushed through broken windows into the ancient crypt until it was halfway up the columns. More than 50 other churches around the UNESCO World Heritage site city were flooded, along with museums, libraries and archives, where priceless manuscripts and books were reduced to pulp. Innumerable shops, hotels, restaurants and houses were also submerged, leaving business owners without their livelihoods and many residents without habitable homes. In spite of the valiant recovery missions undertaken by thousands of volunteers in the days that followed, much of the damage – made significantly worse by subsequent repeat flooding over the following few days – is likely to be irreparable, with costs estimated to exceed €1 billion.

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About Italia!

Welcome to this first issue of 2020! We send you our best wishes for a productive and peaceful time in the year ahead. Here we are looking forward to travelling deeper into Italy, discovering new places and seeing the familiar in a new light.