Venice is one of the most renowned cities in Europe. Situated in Northern Italy, the city is established on more than 110 small islands in the Adriatic Sea lagoon. The city is hailed for its deep historical roots as a trading city since the 10th century. Venice is further hailed for its beautiful setting, artwork and architecture during the Renaissance period. It was a capital of interest during the Napoleonic wars and is associated with artists such as Antonio Vilvadi and William Shakespeare. On the geographical sphere, the city has continued to thrive despite the constant problem of acqua alta the Veneto word for high waters. The capital periodically experiences high tide peaks from the Adriatic Sea (McKinney, 2007). The high waters have greatly impacted the lifestyle, architecture, economic activities and general civilian life in the capital.
The high waters have highly been linked to the special elements or attributes associated with the Venetian lagoon. The subsidence or rather the downward shift of the surface in Venice continues to enhance the acqua alta while at the same time affecting the soil quality within the coastal periphery. Notably, the urban structuring continues to magnify the effect of the high waters on the buildings and city residents. The high waters and flooding are further caused by the sirocco and bora winds that often are harbour-bound hindering connection and ultimately slowing water outflow of water from the Venetian lagoon toward the Adriatic Sea. With the blockage of channels, the waters within the city are blocked hence causing floods that hinder normal life in Venice. The high waters are also amplified by the prescence or existence of the Porto Marghera industrial area. The area was built by the fill-up of lagoon parts where many small islands previously lay above sea level. It is prudent that these islands acted as expansion tanks or natural sponges that mopped up excess water brought about by the sea tides.
High Waters and the Venetian Civilian Life
The presence of high waters has impacted on the lifestyle of the Venetian people. The acqua alta usually occurs from October to April. The floods are a common feature particularly in the late fall. Many residents are forced to move to higher grounds and even higher floors in buildings to avoid coming in contact with high waters. The high waters further hinder the normal day-to-day functions of a section of residents. Businesses, for instance, close down or experience damages brought forth by the high waters (McKinney, 2007). Other businesses thrive at the face of the acqua alta such as sale of Wellington boots, plastic boots, water proof clothing e cetera. Many residents further have to contend with humid conditions that may bring with them waterborne and cold-related ailments. The civilian movement is also hindered during the floods. Much of the transportation is water-based using gondolas or Venetian boats. Water buses are also used to aid in the transportation of individuals within and about the Venice.
Architectural Design and the High Waters
The high waters have fundamentally impacted on the architectural design in Venice. Many buildings in Venice have raised floors above the street levels ensuring that fewer floods occur. This ensures that the buildings are less than likely to be prone to floods that come periodically. Many buildings are also designed with underground pumps and flood chambers that wade away floods from establishments. The Italian government has also put up movable dykes that can be raised whenever the high waters occur (McKinney, 2007). The dykes are essential in controlling the floods at the lagoon entrances. There is a dry proof design technology used in the countering of floods. This is well executed by using resin on buildings to make them waterproof. Resin bound materials are said to be perfect in proofing buildings in Venice. The architecture design further focuses on constructing buildings with a floating base within a static water body. This ensures that the buildings can withstand the devastating effects of acqua Alta.
Tourism and the Acqua Alta
Tourism as one of the prime economic ventures in Venice is highly impacted on by the high waters. To some tourists, the acqua culture is part of the Venetian life that also doubles up as an attractive experience. The high waters and ultimate adjustments made in the city following the occurrence of the floods create a memorable experience. The wading through the water and walking on top of the passarelles or temporary walk ways provided by the authorities offers the tourists the Venetian experience. The tourists get to enjoy the authentic gondola rides around the city that make their stay in the Italian city worthwhile (Draper, 2001). On the contrary, the floods continue to maroon some tourist attractions in Venice. Their inaccessibility of these areas is heightened by the floods. The floods that continue to rise in height are also becoming an impediment to enjoyment of scenic areas and restaurants in Venice. The floods make visits such as the St.Marks Square hazardous for the tourists. The floods have further damaged iconic structures within the city.
Venice: The Sinking City
Geographical pundits posit that the Venetian is slowly sinking and thus there is need to look into the city configuration and its developmental mandate. The town is said to have subsided by almost 16 centimetres since the year 1900. The sinking is greatly attributed to the pumping and withdrawal of water from the aquifers found below the city. A small fraction is linked to natural subsidence (McKinney, 2007). Global warming has further enhanced the high water levels with levels changing by almost 22 centimetres relative to sea level. With the rising water levels and sinking, the acqua alfa will be more rampant in the city of Venice(Draper, 2001). The rampant floods mean that much of the city developments will be eroded or negatively affected. It is estimated by the year 2050; the ground water levels may reach 20 centimetres if no measures are undertaken. This means that St. Marks will be flooding not less than 350 times annually. With such alarming forecast reports, there is need for Venice to review its sustainability and developmental mandate.
Venice is a pivotal capital in Italy and by extension Europe. Its central nature as well as its historical foundations makes it a prime capital. The capital, however, faces detrimental effects due to the high waters that periodically surface in the city. The high waters or acqua alta are brought about by man-made activities as well as natural factors. The existence of the Porto Marghera industrial area is one of the key artificial factors that bring about the high waters. The Venetian subsidence is the most notable natural factor that enhances the acqua alta. As aforementioned, the civilian life has been greatly affected by the high water. Many individuals continue to face the problems associated with the high waters. Mobility and participation in the normal day-to-day activities are notably affected by the natural phenomena. Tourism, as a one of top foreign exchange earners in Venice, also experience a mix and positive effects brought about by the high waters. The architecture design and urban planning has also been affected with city engineers and planners reviewing building designs. This is aimed at safeguarding the citys infrastructure and buildings from the ravaging effects of the floods.
Draper, A. S. (2001). Coping with natural disasters. New York, NY: Rosen Pub. Group.
McKinney, F. K. (2007). The northern Adriatic ecosystem: Deep time in a shallow sea. New York: Columbia University Press.
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