Grounded gondolas and dry canals have lost the romantic energy Venicedisappointment tourists in one of Italys most visited cities.

A general view of a dry channel for low tide on February 16, 2023 in Venice, Italy.

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Weeks off dry winter weather and no rain has turned Venice’s iconic waterways into muddy pits; water levels in some canals are so low that gondolas and other water-based vehicles such as taxis and ambulances cannot travel.

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A series of images emerging from the Italian city on Friday showed barely visible streams of water pooling around dozens of boats alongside the exposed foundations of several buildings.

A general view of a dry channel for low tide on February 16, 2023 in Venice, Italy.

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Although flooding is normally a primary concern in the “floating city”, environmental experts have pointed to a lack of rain, a lingering high-pressure weather system and low tides as reasons for the emptied canals.

Venice is not the only area in Italy that is becoming dry. Environmental group Legambiente said Italian lakes and rivers are “in anxiety” as a result of a drought in the country. They claim the Alps saw 53 percent less snow than is usually average for the mountain range. Meanwhile, the Po, Italy’s longest river, suffered a water deficit of 61 percent this year.

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Today’s low tide in Venice has reached -62 centimeters above mean sea level, causing problems for navigation on February 6, 2023 in Venice, Italy.

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Last July, Italy declared a state of emergency for areas around the Po – which account for about a third of the country’s agricultural production – and were hit by their worst drought in 70 years.

“We are in a water deficit situation that has been building up since the winter of 2020-2021,” climate expert Massimiliano Pasqui of the Italian scientific research institute CNR told the daily Corriere della Sera. “We need to recover 500 millimeters in the northwestern regions: we need 50 days of rain.”

The latest weather forecasts signal that there will be much needed precipitation and snow in the Alps in the coming days.

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However, Venice has not always been dry. 2019, Italy declared a state of emergency in the city after Venice was submerged in six feet of water, flooding homes and small businesses and damaging the city’s historic St. Mark’s Basilica.

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People walk in the flooded St. Mark’s Square during a period of high tide in Venice, Italy, on November 14, 2019.

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City officials said the tide peaked at 187 centimeters, making it one of the highest floods in the city’s history, second only to 1966, when Venice saw a 194 centimeter flood.


Click to play video: 'Venice flooded by high tide on Christmas Eve'


Venice was flooded by high tide on Christmas Eve


— With files from Reuters and Emerald Bensadoun

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