Venice has long lived a charmed life. Built on 118 low-lying Italian islands in a shimmering lagoon, the city’s questionable location has always made it precarious. Prone to flooding since its earliest days, it looks as though time is starting to run out. When high winds in the Adriatic swept six feet of water through the city’s streets in 2019, it represented Venice’s worst floods for more than half a century. Climate change was blamed initially — but poor engineering, civic mismanagement and neglected flood defences also played their part.
The floods caused untold damage to countless ancient buildings and monuments here. Swimming across St Mark’s Square might illicit a chuckle, but the reality is no laughing matter. With ocean levels continuing to rise and the city’s flood defences not fit for purpose, this might soon become a common sight. With Venice in danger of disappearing for good, this is a city whose luck has run out.