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Traditions & Festivals

Visitors' Area

weather & 'acqua alta'

"We cannot choose if it is going to rain or not.
We DO have the choice of how we want to respond to the rain".


Tide level: Medium

(The most recent forecast graph, by Centro Maree del Comune di Venezia)

Overview: What is "Acqua alta" - High tide?

The tide may exceed ground level - causing the typical phenomenon called "Acqua alta" - in some times of the year: it may occur quite frequently from November to February, less frequently also in October and in March-April

During this period, we will report exceptional levels, if boots are to be suggested. Venetians are quite used to it, and do not complain, though "acqua alta" causes not little trouble to their schedules: boats may have to follow alternative canals, public boat transportation services undergo a "revolution" during peak days and hours. Water won't (hopefully!) reach a 1 meter level in the streets: measurements refer to the sea level, so expect a 50 cms. at worst and have your boots ready. Acqua alta does not last all day: peaks may be in the early morning or in the evening, and this phenomenon may happen from October to early January. The reasons are many: the lagoon is not a static environment: water level is influenced by winds, rain, the Moon, and also from human modifications to the environment

From October to January, when water level exceeds 90 cms. from sea level calculated in normal conditions at Punta della Dogana, you may see "acqua alta": (salty) water in the streets and squares of Venice. Usually it is just a few cms. If you go out for a walk in the lower areas of the city and during "acqua alta" peak hours, we suggest you to bring waterproof boots with you, in a bag, so that you can wear them if necessary. Boots can be bought in Venice. But you can also enjoy walking on the wooden temporary "walkways" which are strategically placed. Consult forecasts and peak hours in this page.

Acqua alta, unless it reaches extraordinary level (it happened in 1966) does not cause damages: Venetian residents are used to it, and high tide is forecast well in advance, so that shops and restaurants at ground level can move from the floor any item which may deteriorate.
Sometimes acqua alta means hard work to residents. It is always an odd and unique experience for tourists.

And also when the tide is up,
life goes on...

acqua alta
Photo © VeniceWord


Centro Maree forecasts the level day by day, summarized by tables and graphs. Here is how to read them:

  • if the water level in St.Mark's basin is 65-68 cms., expect to find some water on the ground in front of St.Marks' church entrance. Important: do not think you'll see water 65 cms. high in St.Mark's square: this measure refers to the sea level.
  • if the level is up to 85, expect some big puddles in St.Mark's square and in some "calli" (streets) in Venice. The middle area of St.Mark's square will be dry, as it is not perfectly flat. Wear water-proof boots!
  • at 90 cms., St.Mark's square will be a lake of salty water. Some vaporettos (public boats) routes will be cancelled and alternative routes will be used. This is because they won't be able to pass under some bridges. Quite a confusion at boat stops. Lower areas in Venice can be accessed via special "walkways"
  • at 110 cms, you'll hear sirens: this informs population to get ready. Most shops and warehouse at ground floors are likely to be flooded.
  • from 120 cms to 140 cms, Venetians will get worried. Important: again, do not think you'll see water 120 cms high all around in the streets: this measure refers to the sea level. Acqua alta can result in a 50 cms water in the streets: which is not little, anyway.

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