November 17, 2012

Venice Under Water

I was shocked by photos of the recent flooding in Venice. They reminded me of how fragile some of the world's most famous and treasured sites really are.

When I was there two years ago, there was minor flooding of St. Mark's Square. Acqua alta - high water. My feet got wet and reflections of the lights from surrounding buildings added sparkle to the scene, but it was nothing serious. Flooding is a common occurrence and the locals are ready with wooden platforms to serve as elevated walkways when the need arises.

Caffe Quadri on Piazza San Marco

But Venice is sinking. And rising ocean levels and heavy rainfalls are creating much bigger problems. The Italians are working on a system of mobile barriers to be used during dangerously high tides, but they aren't expected to be completed until 2014. Can the city survive until then?

There are signs of decay but they only add to the charm of Venice. I'm not a fan of modern architecture. Old buildings have so much more character. They have a history. And that's why I love Europe so much.

I'd love to take another trip to Italy. (The last time I was in Rome, I threw a coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure my return. And it had worked for me once before.) There are few do-overs to take care of the next time around. Like experiencing Venice under sunny skies. 

And I still haven't been to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence to see Botticelli's Birth of Venus. I had a ticket in my hand the last time I was there. But I chose to join our tour group on an excursion to Pisa and the Chianti Hills instead. (We did have a lot of fun.) So the closest I've gotten to the painting is a sidewalk chalk drawing outside the National Gallery in London.

And then there are new parts of Italy to see, like the villages of the Cinque Terre and the northern Lakes District. I've already got my eyes on a tour that would take me there.

For now, I'll dream. And hope that the places on my Bucket List will still be intact when I get there.

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