Sunday, November 29

With No Traffic, Clear Water Returns to Venice

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Swans, in Venice? Well, anything is possible. Right now the water in Venice is clearer than it’s been in more than half a century.

There’s no way to minimize the tragic toll that the coronavirus has exacted in Italy, where more than 5,500 people have died so far. But the story of clean water in Venice falls under the heading of the laws of unintended consequences.

The first time I was in Venice I was 21 years old, and that was a very long time ago. The water in the canals was less-than-clear even then. The last time I was in Venice was 13 years ago, on my wife’s birthday. We were going to test a new Hinckley on Lake Como and took a side holiday to Venice before we got there. Venice was beautiful then, but the water in the canals was, to put it mildly, pretty cloudy.

Now, the water is clear; people say they can see the sandy bed, with fish and crabs and plant-life. Because of the coronavirus, most of the gondolas are tied up. The vaporetti water buses are on a reduced schedule. The gigantic cruise liners have disappeared. With less traffic, the waters are not churned up, and the sediment stays on the bottom.

Franco Folin, a local fisherman, told The Guardian, “when this is all over, we may well see more fish returning because for the moment pleasure fishing is prohibited. There will be an awful lot of extra marine life in the lagoon.”

“We Venetians have the feeling that nature has returned and is taking back possession of the city,” said Gloria Beggiato, who owns the Metropole Hotel near St. Mark’s Square.

For now, it seems that nature has hit the reset button on Venice and its historic – and now clear – canals. Read more:



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