A canal in Venice

Photo by Niall62

Between globalization and climate change, many of the world’s cities have changed so much in the past few years that they’re almost unrecognizable. Some places are simply evolving into something different, but others are at risk of disappearing altogether. Today, we’re shining the spotlight (or should that be floodlight?) on Venice.

I find people generally fall into two camps when it comes to Venice: they either love it or they hate it. People who love it romanticize the blue-green canals swirling a maze around centuries-old buildings, the gondolas drifting along with enamored couples, the bridges linking one twisted alley to another, and, well, you get the picture. Those that hate it complain about it being a crowded, stinky, over-priced tourist trap. You can decide for yourself which camp you belong to – but you’ll have to get to Venice before it disappears.

Floodwaters inundate Venice every year, and it’s a problem that’s getting worse. In the early 1900s, Venice used to flood less than 10 times a year. Now, it floods more than 100 times. Between the rising sea levels and the ground slowly sinking into the mud, the city will be uninhabitable by 2100. Of course, the Italian government is trying to prevent that by – among other things – building a massive flood barrier.

Still, a lot of the damage has already been done. A really bad storm in 1966 submerged the city in more than six feet of water and damaged numerous buildings (not to mention the priceless artwork inside). While, just a couple of years ago, Venice experienced some of the worst flooding in decades, with the waters topping five feet and affecting about 40% of the city’s historic buildings. So even if it might be a while before Venice becomes another Atlantis, a lot of what the city has to offer in terms of art and architecture might soon crumble away (FYI the famous St. Mark’s Square is the lowest point in the city).

The city tends to flood between September and April, with November and December being the worst months. So visit Venice! Just don’t forget to pack some rain boots.