The Venetian Lagoon

The Venetian Lagoon

In Venice, a Young Boatman Steers a Course of His Own

The Venetian lagoon is the largest lake in Italy and the seventh largest in the world. Its 4.6-million-sq.-mile expanse of water is so large that you might think you’ve just stepped onto a planet, with a circumference of 2,360 miles (4,000 to 5,000 km).

Venetians know that the sea is nearby at the end of a long, narrow peninsula on the mainland, but they are loath to talk about it or even imagine it. This is because if there is such a vast lake out there, it is an embarrassment to Venice. It is an obvious symbol of decline and has long been a sore spot between the people who live there and their neighbors on the mainland.

There, on the very southern tip of Italy, is where the Venetian lagoon is cut off from the rest of the sea. Venice is essentially a peninsula with only a narrow strip of sand on top of the rocky hills on the very tip. To the inhabitants of the city-state, this sand represents the sea.

The Venetians don’t really want to talk about it, either. But because the lagoon is so large, it is very crowded and the water level is constantly rising. Because the lagoon is always being filled in and emptied, there is constantly fresh water to spill over the city-state’s banks into the sea. This naturally causes the lagoon to overflow into the waterway that runs past all of Venice.

On July 4, 2016, flood warnings for Venice were issued, after two days of heavy rains had fallen. The National Weather Service predicted that the lagoon could begin to “run wild” by Sunday morning. Then, the water had to rise and the Venetians began to panic.

“I was in my home when that warning came on my TV and I just couldn’t believe it was real,” said Andrew Cieslicki

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