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Home Columns Travel Unusual Travel Tales part 2: Acqua Alta

Unusual Travel Tales part 2: Acqua Alta

Last updated 4 months ago by Michael Darmanin

stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey

Babs Hoffman

La Dominante, La Serenissima, Queen of the Adriatic, City of Water, City of Masks, City of Bridges, City of Canals, as they say, Venice is undoubtedly bucketlist favourite for many travellers/tourists. I, on the other hand was never a Venetian fan. But what’s the harm in sojourning it once in a lifetime. Obviously, those bollywood romantic songs played its part, stimulating my desire to have a city break at this place. Allow me to describe the ever-lasting image of Venice which every Indian holds. Actors and Actresses romancing in the traditional gondola, gondolier singing the Italian ballad and they being filmed sailing across the picturesque canals. Click here to have a glimpse at the first Bollywood song shot in Venice.

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Made up of 118 islands, 400 bridges and over 170 canals, Venetian Lagoon and the city is a World Heritage Site. Photo Credits: Kishan Hirani

My interest laid in the colorful province of Venice – Murano & Burano island and Acqua Alta ( A bookshop.. I mean). Libreria Acqua Alta classifies in the list of World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores. My wishlist holds the desire to be at these bookstores once in my life.

Libreria Acqua Alta
An alley of Libreria Acqua Alta. Photo by Michele Purin on UnSplash.com

Without any further ado, here I begin my exciting tale of Venice.

Journey to Venice

Italy is a country of many exquisite destinations. Therefore, a long holiday is ideal to cover numerous locations. We choose Christmas holidays. On 22nd December, 2019, we headed to Venice from Milan. Stazione Milano Centrale ( Milan Central Station) is the largest railway station in Europe by volume. We opted for Frecciarossa, a high-speed train ( maximum speed of 350 km/h) connecting the Italian cities and also, making the trip across the country short and convenient.

Italian train operator “Trenitalia” runs Freccia Rossa which means Red Arrow in English. It took 2 hours 15 mins to reach Venice from Milan. Photo Credits: Kishan Hirani

Arrival at Venice

Before planning the dates of our visit to Venice, we had thoroughly checked the weather at that time. The reason was that in November, 2019 the city experienced the worst flooding in over 50 years. Heavy rains, strong winds and seasonal high tides were the contributing factors. As soon as we stepped outside the Venezia Santa Lucia railway station, we saw the raised wooden platforms placed all over the city. We thought it might be due to the recent flooding. The below is the dialogue my partner had with me after seeing a street vendor selling Plastic Boots.

Kishan: Have a look at those fancy shoes. Don’t you find it amazing?

Krutika: Yes, I find trendy too.

Kishan: Let’s buy it!

Krutika: At this moment, I see no purpose. Yeah, it’s amusing but if needed, we will buy it then.

Kishan (in his mind): At times, this girl never listens.

It’s perfectly okay not to listen sometimes, else you don’t get the stories to tell.

Traveller’s tip: Find your place of stay near the city center. Especially, at walking distance from top sights. We had our arrangement made via Booking.com. That too, just steps away from the Rialto Bridge. Have a glance of our apartment here.

Facing the real Acqua Alta

On the day after, in the morning we decided to have a quick visit at the bookstore as our other travel buddies were getting ready. Surprisingly, what we see is few footsteps of the staircase submerged in the water. Unable to go out, Rubber Wellies badly needed! Also, idly sitting at the apartment for half of the day was completely waste of time. But what stayed ahead of us was who will get the Plastic Boots. To buy those, there was no chance one could go barefooted. Imagine the winters of December and the spine chilling cold water. No one was carrying an extra pair of shoes which they could lend for this ultimate adventure. Fortunately, I was carrying my good to go sneakers (That too, of aqua green color…. Turquiose to be precise).

Acqua Alta
Experiencing the real-time Acqua Alta. Photo by Krutika Hirani

I rolled up my pants and took a plunge in the water. And Ah! it was freezing cold. Feet went numb and for a minute I thought to not to go ahead. To give up on anything is certainly not in my mannerism. I built up my mind to suffer it for few more minutes and keep reminding myself that it will be perfectly fine, afterwards. Just keep moving. Rialto Market ( nearly 1000 years old) was 300 metres away from our stay. Glad about it! (One of the benefits to book accomodation near city center). There I saw one of the souvenir stall trading the boots. As I made my way through the kiosk, my Indian behaviour pattern started to rise – “Bargain”. Supposedly, I was also told to do so. I made a pretty nice deal and bought four pairs. Maybe my petite stature helped!

Rialto Market
Rialto Market. As you can see, tourists wearing the wellies and the plastic boots. Photo by Krutika Hirani
Rialto Bridge
Venice as seen from the Rialto Bridge. Photo credits: Krutika Hirani

Venice – the Venetian Way.

Back at the apartment, with Rubber Boots tied to our knees; made slight changes in the plan. We guys, were sport on to experience Venezia in a new way.

Our travel buddy, Akanksha Srivastva rocking the Acqua Alta look. Photo Credits: Krutika Hirani
Girls in Pink-Boots like to slay. Photo by Krutika Hirani

Remember, my partner who wanted to wear these boots from the very day we landed. Well, Wish fulfilled!

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What it’s really like. All of us had a blast relishing Acqua Alta. Photo by Krutika Hirani

Interesting Fact: Venice is built on logs, made of Alder trees which are well-known for its water-resistant property.

We, then paved towards San Marco and climbed the Bell Tower to have an aerial view of Venice.

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Piazza San Marco seems to be a gigantic swimming pool. Photo by Krutika Hirani
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Doge Palace. Venetian Life in Winter Months nearly summed up. Photo by Krutika Hirani
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San Marco Square. Photo by Kishan Hirani

An orange gem resting on a blue glass plate: it’s Venice seen from above

Henry James
Venice - Unusual Travel Tales
Couldn’t agree more with the above quote. Photo Credits: Kishan Hirani

Go, Go, Gondola

The Gondolas are traditional black boats of Venice. Coming to Venice and not doing a gondola ride is not at all happening. As we couldn’t sail our boat through the city center canals, we went our joyride in the S shaped “Grand Canal”. The Grand Canal is the biggest and splits the city.

Venice Acqua Alta
Venice as seen from the Grand Canal. Photo by Krutika Hirani
Venice Acqua Alta
“Ve-Nice” touring. Cliché Pose is mandatory. Photo by Akanksha Srivastva

What is Acqua Alta and Why does it happen?

Acqua Alta literally translates to “High Water”. It is a tidal phenomenon occurring in the Adriatic Sea that covers the part of Venice for few hours and then slowly disappears. It becomes prominent mainly between autumn and spring. The confluence of astronomical, geographical and meteorological factors are the contributing factors. When the moon’s gravitational pulll lines up with the hot humid wind Sirocco coming from Northern Africa, water is forced into the Venetian Lagoon. The local Bora wind plays an equal responsible part on the Adriatic Sea. The winds prevent the outward flow of the water from lagoon to the sea and hence, the high tide overlaps with the previous one. Furthermore, the long and rectangular shape of the Adriatic sea is the cause of oscillating water motion which results in extreme tidal events.

Acqua Alta
Satellite Image of the Adriatic Sea. Photo Credits: Public Domain, Wikipedia

Flooding will become worse because of the sea level is continuously rising. Moreover, Venice is sinking 1-2 mm per year since it sits on the shifting tectonic plates which makes it prone to the high tides. In 2019, Venice experienced worst flooding in 50 years with 85% of the city submerged in water.

Acqua Alta
Witnessed the exceptional Lagoon Acqua Culture. Photo by Krutika Hirani

Tips to Survive Acqua Alta

Acqua Alta is not a threatening situation. The inconvenience and the trouble caused by it can be avoided with simple yet so important tips:

1) To keep a track of ebb and flow of the Acqua Alta, one of the localities suggested us to download the App named High Tide Venice – Hi!Tide. A perfect forecast app to predict weather if travelling during the period between October and February.

Already amused by the tale, read more about the another exciting travel experience here.

2) Buy the waterproof wellies to avoid your feet getting wet. Walk on the elevated platforms. There is a high probability of tumbling into the canal.

Acqua Alta
It is so obvious for Shop-Owners to use flood gates and pump. Photo Credits: Krutika Hirani

3) To prepare for the flooding, there is a siren system to warn you about the rising water levels. In case you hear one, brace yourself!

Above all, be spontaneous. Go with the flow, any obstacle can arise, embrace your potential. Be flexible and adaptable enough if something occurs against your will. As they say, unexpected things happen when you don’t have a plan.

Pro Tip: Italy is cash-friendly. Only few places will accept the credit/debit cards.

More about Venice

Every February, annual festival – The Carnival of Venice takes place to celebrate the history and culture of Venice. The event is world famous for its elaborate masks. Panel of internatonal costumes and fashion designer judges the contest for la maschera più bella (“the most beautiful mask”). One can find ample of shops selling Venetian mask. Also, an artistic souvenir to carry back home.

Venice Carnival. Photo By Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA – Couple in love at the 2010 Carnevale in Venice (IMG_9534a), CC BY 2.0 on Wikipedia
Varieties of Face Mask. It becomes hard to choose one from these many options. Photo by Krutika Hirani
Venetian Mask
Jester or Jolly Masks are highly popular. Photo by Krutika Hirani

Go island hopping and lagoon tour! Visit Burano and Murano, completely dedicated to lace and glass production respectively. Apart from these popular features, both the islands are cladded with vibrant hues of row houses.

Burano Island. Photo By Krutika Hirani

To move around the canals and the islands, the public transport in the city are “Water Trams” , also known as Vaporetto. Buy your tickets and have unlimited access for a fixed duration (24h /48h /72h). Its better to purchase this product as the single use of the water bus takes up 7.50 euros. For the people aged between 6 and 29 year, they can take the special Rolling Venice Card. Also the tickets are valid to your tour to Murano, Burano, Lido and Torcello.

Water Buses in Venice. Photo By Peter K Burian – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, on Wikipedia

Preasumming that you are a chocolate fanatic like I am, Nino & Friends is worth visiting. Give Gelato a miss in Venice and head to the wonderful chocolate store. The shop serves absolutely delectable Italian chocolates. Be it a creamy spread, marmalades, truffles, candied orange and lemon peels or artisan Italian cookies, Nino & Friends is a one stop destination. Go for any of their Pistachio flavoured product and you won’t regret. Add it as your worthwhile point of interest whenever in Venice.

Nino & Friends
Ecstatic fan of the chocolates. Photo Credits: Kishan Hirani

What about my visit to the bookstore?

Oh, how can I forget that. Last but not the least, I visited it at the day’s end. Finally, I ticked off the bookstore from the list. The entire store is designed for floods. Bathtubs and gondolas are filled with books.

Till I come up with new account of travels,


Acqua Alta
Veni Vidi Amavi ( We came We saw We loved). Alla Prossima! Photo Credits: Kishan Hirani

P.S. Lastly, while leaving Venice, we sold off the boots to one of the vendor for recycling. Just a Gujju thing!

Krutika Jadeja Hirani
Krutika Jadeja Hirani
Born and raised in India, I am Electronics & Communication Engineer. New Technologies, Travelling, Reading, Dancing, Relishing Different Culture and Making Delicious Meals are the things that fascinate me the most. Caught by Wanderlust bug, I would describe myself as a "Flaneur" I am passionately curious about exploring new horizons. Dance keeps my creative flare intact. Reading and Travelling helps me to narrate tales that motivate. Having a Papyrophilia, I love to hoard stationeries. I am here, to make a difference through my writings, share ideas and hope to inspire. I live by this quote:"Pen is mightier than Sword."


  1. This is the most amazing blog I’ve ever read. Looking forward to have more & more blogs written by you😍 Keep going! You’re more than just awesomeeee 💕

    • Much Obliged by your motivating words, Pooja. Thank you for your sincere appreciation. Keeps me inspired to write more!


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