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Visiting Venice after the floods: A tourist shares her account first hand

(CNN) – Halfway through spaghetti, the siren left: what sounded like a war-raid alarm, plus two long, sci-fi-like sound sounds coming from the surrounding church towers.

] "No …" shouted Alberto Simonetto, owner of Venice's La Rosa dei Venti Trattoria, shot his head out the door and listened as the siren repeated. He turned back to the German family who ate at their restaurant.

“I've been trapped here for four days. I wanted to get out tonight, ”he told them, suddenly forgetting that they didn't speak Italian. "I just wanted to go home," he told his waiter. "I wanted to take a shower and watch TV."

It was Friday, November 1

5, three days after Venice suffered the second worst flood in history. Simonetto was fortunate, he said that he "caused" only $ 8,000 ($ 8,900) damage.

After three days of sleeplessness while keeping his water in check, he was tired. When the siren sounded on the fourth night of the night, it looked like it was falling apart.

He was also embarrassed. When we arrived at 22:00 we asked if they were still open, he said, it depends on what you want. "We can make pasta with sardine ragout, meat ragout, tomato or cream and mushrooms," he said. We asked for sparkling water and shook our head fairly. "I'm sorry – we haven't had a delivery for three days."

Locals pick up pieces

As a tourist in Venice, you rarely see local life. But last week, tourists couldn't help but be co-opted into the five-day flood. Choosing only four meals from pasta does not mean that it will cause you $ 8,000 in damage to your business, of course; but for a while, in a city where tourists seem to do as they like, while locals gather pieces, the tourists were also uncomfortable.

Six weeks ago, I booked a weekend in Venice with my mother to visit the Biennale, an annual six-month art exhibition. Arriving Friday night it was clear that our plans for an elegant flânerie weekend would be of no use. The floods dispersed at the time we arrived, and the most tangible damage – a water bus smashed onto the pavement, a newsstand kiosk floating in the canal – was cleared.

But more personal damage was visible too. Friends in Cannaregio lost their bed and refrigerator, but did not plan to clean their apartment until the acqua alta was finished. They said:

Others got rid of the destroyed property more quickly. The streets – even quieter than usual in a town with only 53,000 inhabitants (three times as many in the 1930s) – were filled with things destroyed by floods: refrigerators, mattresses, lamps, electrical appliances, books and magazines. Closed museums and churches

Churches were banned – 50 or approximately half of them suffered serious damage, including the Byzantine Basilica di San Marco.
Museums and galleries, Aj Ca 'Pesaro, a modern art gallery set on the Grand Canal, is considered so severely damaged that it will be closed for three months, a man who noticed the damage at Palazzo Mocenigo, (now reopened)) Museum of Textiles and Perfume.
At the Renaissance Museum of Palazzo Grimani, which opened again this year with a large new classic exhibit, the flood barrier was pulled down and a piece of paper arrived at the gate that said it was unexpectedly closed.
Fondazione Querini S Tampalia – beloved local museum, library and research center – was also closed. Its ground floor was devastated – including the modern space redesigned by modernist Venetian architect Carl Scarp from 1949 to 1963.

Scarpa deliberately designed the floor to embrace the acqua alta, instead of trying to resist it. His work for Querini Stampalia includes modern cantilevered footpaths over the old, travertine stairs and drains and wrought iron doors so that the water can slide in and out without hindrance.

Floods culminated in six footprints

These were just cultural institutions. Looking for dinner, it was clear that the small businesses were the worst hit.

"Closed due to acqua alta", he read inscriptions on some restaurant doors; others were closed without explanation. Around San Pantalon, an area that usually buzzes with nightlife, tourists crowded around a lone bar. On other streets, the Venetians in the high thighs roasted a quick ombre (wine glasses), the flood barriers had already pulled out.

La Rosa dei Venti dinner had to be a record for Italy. Our pasta came a few minutes. Fifteen minutes later a siren sounded and we got a bill. "Sorry," Alberto said as he rushed us. "The water is already leaving the canal." In those 25 minutes we were there, the street outside turned into a ford.

On Saturday at midday, the authorities predicted tidal levels of 115 centimeters (almost four feet). At 110 centimeters, nearly 12% of the city is flooded; at 120 centimeters, more than 35%. After 140 centimeters more than 90% of the city is flooded. Last week's flood peaked 187 centimeters.

The elderly man died because local authorities in the Italian lagoon demanded the introduction of a state of emergency.

"Venetians Help Each Other"

Marta Renno dried woolen nativity scenes made in Bethlehem in her Fair Trade near San Stae vaporetto in Bottega del Mondo.

Black ink on wall indicates refugee flood level – knee height.

"It was a special week," she said. “Many tourists went home. But it is good in Venice that people help each other. ”

She has not heard of any of the organs around her; but they were all right, she said, because they controlled each other.

The armies of young people who patrol the city and help people clean and rebuild are called "acqua alta angels". Other people in the Veneto region, including electricians, provided their services free of charge to the affected city.

At night in the Basilica of San Marco – closed to tourists but open to believers – the priest appreciated Venetian solidarity. in his discipline. He said of an older woman hanging a basket full of sweets in the middle of a flood in the middle of a flood. That is, he said, the spirit of Venice.

"It's always the people on earth who make changes," Marta said with a smile as she aired leather sheets hit by water.

Around Piazza San Marco

Other store owners have already begun bringing materials damaged by the floods, she said, because everyone knew they were specializing in upcycling. They wanted to make sure that as little as possible was unnecessarily unnecessary. "We'll be all right," she said with a smile.

There was another story about Piazza San Marco. Danieli – one of the city's most famous hotels – installed metal walkways that his guests could enter, and the ground floor window seems to have been broken.

His medieval bar was closed, tables, chairs and large chairs. A piano piled on top of each other, amid water collection.

The bars in the piazza itself, usually heard by tourists willing to pay $ 15 for a cappuccino with live orchestral accompaniment, were closed. Damaged design shops, including Prada, Versace and Ferragamo, were hidden through their windows in the surrounding streets.

At one of the few supermarkets left open, I asked where to find water. "If there are any," said the protector, pointing me to the empty shelves where only a few small bottles remained.

Global Flood Expert Henk Ovink argues that historic floods in Venice are not only the result of the climate crisis, but also of poor infrastructure and poor management.

"We were lucky"

The Venetians, however, remained not only stoic, but positive. At the Acqua Alto bookstore, whose Instagram-known shelf gondolas couldn't store their books, students sifted excitedly to find out what could be saved.

"How horrible, how horrible, but this is life and freedom," I sang on the street littering a block from a drowned rat on the cobblestones. " "We were lucky," said the Papadopoli receptionist near the Piazzale Roma bus terminal. "This is a high part of the city. Other hotels had to close."

what most Venetians did: installing flood barriers for Sunday prediction at 150 centimeters and strengthening with insulating foam builders

Unlike others, however, he added self-sacrifice to each door: MOSE (the infamous non-functional flood barrier in Venice); Moses, Noah; St Rosalia (the patron saint of Palermo), and St Rita, the patron saint of impossible cases.

"Marco, what are you doing?" He asked a friend passing by. "If MOSE can't help, maybe Moses will. Noah can with her ark. If she can't, please ask St Rosalia, ”he said.

"And in the extremes, maybe St. Rita can help us," he laughed. restaurant Bacarretto Bistrot, thighs deep in dirty water. "Unfortunately, it's mine," he said with a grin.

The flood caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage, and insurance contracts do not cover the floods in Venice. However, he was more concerned about the fact that it would have been at least two weeks without income before reopening.

Even then he said, "Venice has seen many cancellations." Tourists saw the footage and did not want to come.

As a tourist, I would say that there is no need to postpone a visit. The water has receded and most museums are reopened. The city is as beautiful as ever – even nicer than you might say is selfish, with its current lack of visitors.

The Venetians, however, suffered devastation and what they need now are visitors – and fast.

Like Sebastian Fagarazzi of Venezia Autentica, a platform supporting local craftsmen, he told me last week: “At this point, people must make money to survive the losses they have suffered.

“If people choose not to come, people who desperately do not need money because we receive tourism. "

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