In November 2019, the Venice hotels reported a 35 percent cancellation rate, as the high tides swell in the Venice Lagoon and the historic city was facing one of the most devastating floods of this century. Italian photographer artist Natalia Elena Massi spent a day in the legendary city and captured surreal pictures of a flooded Venice. For those of you who have never been to Venice, but know that the picturesque Italian city is already flooded as it is, let’s start from the beginning with the origins of the Venice waters.
Venice was built on a group of islands and islets standing on a lagoon separated from the Adriatic Sea by a thin stretch of land. The lagoon “is fed” by two rivers. Through the thin stretch of land separating the lagoon from the Adriatic Sea, run three canals that allow the ships and the Adriatic Seawater in. When the tide rises, the seawater enters the laguna; when it falls, it exists. The city is twice a day “fed” with a mix of seawater and freshwater. The city can be occasionally flooded because of unusually high tides, aka “acqua alta”. This phenomenon happens in November and the winter months. Every Venetian local has a par of galoshes and the stores have glass barricades on their doorsteps. Sirens would sound around the city lo let Venetians and tourists know when an “acqua alta” is coming. Still, last November it was more than that. A combination of rising tides and 75-miles-per-hour-strong winds caused massive waves to crash into Venice. On November 12th, the city experienced the worst flood since 1966; the waters reached 1.84 meters above the sea level. Even the locals and Venice authorities were taken by surprise and many blame this unusual flood on the recent climatic changes and global warming of our modern day.
Photographer Natalia Elena Massi took to the numerous canals and endless narrow streets of Venice to photograph the way locals coped with the water reaching all the way up to their knees and how the old city lived up to this climatic challenge. She had heard of the flooded Venice in the news and wanted to photograph it all.
“I love Venice and I visit it whenever I can. This time, I decided to go and photograph the city with the hope of finding it beautiful anyway”, said Natalia. She lives about 100 KM away from Venice, so she made the quick decision of rushing to Venetia and take photographs of the flood. Moreover, she wanted to explore what it’s like to constantly live with the danger of being flooded anytime. How do these people get around? How do they get about their business knowing their homes can get flooded the next day if the tide is too high?
“I hadn’t thought about how difficult it could be. Imagine walking for hours with water well above your knees. (…) I have met incredible people, proud and courageous men who were not defeated by the flood. Even though most shops were closed, the few that were open were happily letting in people just to protect them from the weather. (…) Many men remained at the entrance to constantly check the tide level. They were expecting 160 centimeters and everyone was alerted. (…) I worked in manual mode, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance”, said Natalia. Now, let’s see her magic!