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Visit to Venice after the flood: A tourist shares his account first-hand

(CNN) – At the middle of the spaghetti course, the siren came out: what sounded like a war-time alarm, plus two long sci-fi sounds echoing from surrounding church towers. [19659003] "No …" shouted Alberto Simonetto, owner of Venice's Trattoria La Rosa dei Venti, ran his head through the door to hear the siren repeat. He turned back to a German family who was eating at his restaurant.

"I've been stuck here for four days. I wanted to go out tonight," he told them, suddenly without considering the fact that they did not speak Italian. "I just wanted to get home," he told his only waiter. "I wanted to take a bath and watch TV."

It was Friday, November 1

5, three days after Venice suffered the second worst flood in its history. According to Simone, he was lucky he only "caused" damage worth about 8,000 euros ($ 19,900).

But after three sleepless days of keeping the water on hold, he tired. When the siren sounded for the fourth night, it looked like it might be falling apart.

He was also confused. When we came in at 10pm, asking if they were still open, he said, it depends what you want. "We can make pasta with sardine ragù, ragù meat, tomato or cream and mushrooms," he said. We asked for sparkling water and he shook his head apologetically. "I'm sorry – we haven't had a delivery in three days."

The locals take the pieces

As a tourist in Venice, you rarely have an idea of ​​local life, but last week the tourists couldn't help but be included in floods for five days. Choosing just four pasta dishes is not the equivalent of inflicting 8,000 euros in damage to your business in minutes; but for once, in a city where tourists seem to do as they wish while the locals rob the pieces, tourists are also uncomfortable.

Six weeks ago, I booked a weekend in Venice with my mother visiting the Biennale, the annual six-month art exhibition. Arriving Friday night, it was clear that our plans for a weekend of elegant flirting would not work. The floods were scattered by the time we arrived and the most tangible damage – the water bar crashing on the sidewalk, the newspaper booth floating in the canal – was cleared.

But more personal losses were too visible. Friends in Canareggio had lost their bed and refrigerator, but had no plans to clean their apartment until the familiar viola was over.

Others quickly set themselves free from destroyed objects. The streets – even quieter than usual in a city with only 53,000 inhabitants (there were three times as much in the 1930s) – were piled high with items destroyed by the floods: refrigerators, mattresses, lamps, electrical appliances, books and magazines.

Closed museums and churches

Churches were closed – 50 or about half of them caused serious damage, including the Byzantine Basilica di San Marco.
Museums and galleries, too – It is believed that Ca & # 39; Pesaro, the contemporary art gallery that landed on the Grand Canal, has been so badly damaged that it will be closed for three months, said a man who inspects the damage in Palazzo Mocenigo, (now reopened) is a museum of textiles and perfume.
At the Palazzo Grimani, the Museum of the Renaissance, which reopened with a magnificent new classic exhibit, a flood barrier was erected earlier this year and a piece of paper glued to the gate said it was closed unexpectedly.
The Fondazione Querini S Tampalia – a museum beloved by locals, a library and a research center – was also closed. Its ground floor is devastated – including the modern area, rebuilt by modernist Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa from 1949 to 1963.

Scarpa deliberately designed the floor to cover the familiar alto instead of trying to resist it. His work for the Querini Stampalia includes modern pedestrian walkways, suspended above ancient, travertine steps and wrought iron channels and doors, to allow water to glide in and out.

The floods reached six feet.

These were only cultural institutions. Looking for a place to eat dinner, it was clear that small businesses were the worst affected.

"Closed for Famous Viola", read the door signs of some restaurants; others were imprisoned without explanation. Around San Pantalon, an area that usually buzzes with nightlife, tourists crowd around a secluded bar. Across the streets, Venetians in boots with high hips baked a quick ombre (glasses of wine), and the flood barriers had already risen.

Dinner at La Rosa dei Venti must have been a record for Italy. Our paste came in a few minutes. Fifteen minutes later, the siren sounded and we were handed the bill. "I'm sorry," Alberto said as he hurried us. "The water is already coming out of the canal." In the 25 minutes we were there, the street outside turned into a ford.

On Saturday, authorities forecast tide levels of 115 centimeters (close to four feet) around noon. At 110 centimeters, almost 12% of the city is flooded; 120 centimeters, over 35%. After 140 centimeters, over 90% of the city is swamped. Last week's flood reached 187 centimeters.

An elderly man has died as local authorities in the Italian city of the lagoon call for a state of emergency.

"The Venetians help each other"

Marta Renno dried woolen Christmas scenes made in Bethlehem at her fair trade store near the San Stae vapor shop, Bottega del Mondo. She had noted the level of the flood on Tuesday – knee height – with black ink on the wall.

"It's been a weird week," she said. "A lot of tourists came home. But the nice thing about Venice is that people help each other."

She had not heard of any of the authorities around her area; but they were all right, she said, because they were checking on each other.

The armies of young people who patrolled the city, helping residents clean and restore, were called "angels of the familiar alta." Other residents of the Veneto region, including electricians, offer their services free of charge to the affected city.

That night in the Basilica of San Marco – closed to tourists but open to worshipers – the priest praised the Venetian solidarity in his sermon. He told of an elderly woman who, in the midst of the floods, had stopped a candy-filled basket from her second-floor window. That, in his words, is the spirit of Venice.

"It's always the people on earth who change," Martha said, smiling as she radiated sheets of leather that had been hit by the water.

Around Piazza San Marco

Other store owners have already started bringing them flood-ravaged materials, she said, because everyone knew they specialized in upcycling. They wanted to do as little as possible of the familiar viola. "We'll be fine," she said, smiling.

Around Piazza San Marco was another story. Danieli – one of the city's most famous hotels – had installed metal walkways for his guests, and the ground floor window appeared to be broken.

Its medieval bar is closed, tables, chairs and grand

The bars of the market itself, usually buzzing with tourists willing to pay $ 15 for a cappuccino with live band accompaniment, were closed. In the surrounding streets, design shops including Prada, Versace and Ferragamo had gone out of their windows to hide the damage.

In one of the few supermarkets that remained open, I asked where to find water. "If there's anything left," the security guard said, pointing me to empty shelves with only a few small bottles left.

Global flood expert Hank Owink says the historic floods in Venice are not only the result of the climate crisis but also of poor infrastructure and poor governance.

"We were so lucky here"

But among all this, the Venetians remained not only stoic but optimistic. At Acqua Alta, a bookstore whose Instagram shelves for shelves couldn't save their books, students excitedly sifted through the stocks to see what was salvageable.

"How scary, how scary, but this is life and freedom," sang the trash passing me on the street, a block of drowned rats on a cobblestone.

"We kept the supermarket open just for you," said the security guard, grinning as he directed me to what

"We were so lucky here," said the receptionist at the Papadopoli Hotel near Piazale Roma, the bus terminal. "This is a high part of town. Other hotels had to close."

Marco Acardi returned to the San Stae, doing what most Venetians do: installing his flood barriers for the 150cm Sunday forecast and reinforcing

But unlike others, he added dedication to every door: MOSE (The infamous not-functioning Venice flood barrier); Moses, Noah; St. Rosalia (patron saint of Palermo, where she is from); and St. Rita, the patron saint of the impossible.

"Marco, what are you doing?" asked a passing friend. "If MOSE can't help, maybe Moses will do it. If he can't, maybe Noah can with his ark. If he can't, we ask Saint Rosalia," he said.

"And in extremism, perhaps St. Rita can help us," he laughed.

Venice needs visitors – and quickly

He stopped his work to help us show the video he made on Wednesday at his restaurant, Bacarretto Bistrot, a thigh deep in dirty water. "Unfortunately, it's mine," he said with a smile.

The flood caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage, he said. and the insurance policies do not cover the floods in Venice, but he was more worried that they would be at least two weeks without income before he could

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

As a tourist, I would say that you do not need to postpone your visit. most of the museums have been reopened. The city is as beautiful as ever – even more beautiful, you might say, selfishly, with your current visitor malaise.

But the Venetians have been devastated and what they need now is visitors – and quickly.

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

"If people choose not to come, people who are in desperate need. the necessary money will not get any because we are tourism based. "

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