Published on : Friday, November 15, 2019
Sebastian Fagarazzi was on foot from the bus terminus at Piazzale Roma to Cannaregio, his home district at lunchtime on Wednesday when he saw two tourists coming towards him, suitcases in hand, ready to escape the city.
“They were looking at the cars, like, ‘Oh my god, its salvation,'” he said.
However, as images of floating tables and water taxis run aground Tuesday night’s floods have made the rounds, the city is not under water.
Acqua alta — literally “high water” — is created by high tides. Usually, it stays for few hours. Even on Tuesday, when flooding was as bad as it’s been in 50 years, the city was “completely dry” three and a half hours later, says Fagarazzi.
And he has a message for travelers who are delaying a trip to Venice: “At this moment people need to make money to survive the losses they’ve had,” he said.
“If people decide not to come, people who desperately need money won’t get any, because we’re based on tourism.”
The flooding of the past 24 hours has seen Venetians lose possessions in their homes, stock in their stores, and power — everywhere.
“The street lights were completely off,” says Fagarazzi, a native Venetian, of Tuesday night. “It was completely dark, the only light was from the shop windows. In some areas it was pitch black.”
Fagarazzi is co-founder of Venezia Autentica, a social enterprise that heartens up city’s responsible tourism where rough behaved tourists regularly hit the news.
However in this case, tourists — who often appear unaware to the precarious state of the city — have seen the drama firsthand.
Frank Barrett, a travel writer from the UK, is staying on Giudecca Island and has been caught in the middle of it.
“The feeling you get walking around the center is one of shock and horror — it’s a post-apocalyptic feel,” he told CNN. “Now we know just how fragile Venice is. Climate change has wreaked its havoc.”