Musement speaks to Caterina Pepoli of Venice Tours to better understand the emergency that struck Venice.
We are witnessing a catastrophic situation in Venice. The images of a flooded St Mark’s Square leave us disconcerted, and our hearts are broken at the thought of the terrible consequences that this climate emergency will have on the city, the population and the artistic heritage of Venice. But what is really happening in the calli of La Serenissima? How are the citizens reacting? We asked Caterina Pepoli, administrator of Venice Tours, who lives and works in Venice, to tell us about the climate emergency that has hit Venice.
On November 12, the acqua alta, or high water, reached unprecedented levels. What are the differences with respect to the floods that have hit Venice so far?
The exceptional nature of this tide has caused serious damage to the activities on the ground floor, but, as always happens during the acqua alta, but this time, the peak of the tide returned, inundating the square and city streets.
How is the situation now, a few days later?
The tide is fundamental for the balance of Venice, and the Venetians have been used to living with it for centuries. Today Venice can be visited, city functions and the shops are open. Though we are still counting the damage that concerns electrical systems and various types of goods.
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How does the population act (now and in these situations in general) and to what extent does it manage to continue the course of daily life?
Everyone is making enormous efforts to return to their daily tartines as soon as possible. No one can afford to suffer the failure of their activities in addition to the water damage. Venice lives with the recurrence of the tides and therefore the Venetians know else how to deal with the situation better than anyone. The city’s services started to function again following the peak of the emergency.
What can we, from other cities, do to help?
I think it is important to raise public awareness of the floods that Venice has been experiencing for centuries, but also to stress that we are a living and vital city that has not been made impracticable by this emergency. If any other city had to deal with more than a meter of water, the damage would be irreparable, but we Venetians are prepared for high water and we are used to dealing with this type of emergency in a short time. I think it is equally important to safeguard the artistic heritage as much as possible because the saltwater damage will increase and grow more irreparable with the passage of time.
When do you think guided tours of the city and its monuments will resume?
The gondoliers have repaired the gondolas, the craftsmen are continuing with their activities and the guides are working regularly. Now more than ever we need to let you know that our city, with its fascinating diversity, is livable and visitable.