When we think of Venice, we think of water. But have you ever thought that there could be too much water in the historic European city?
When photographer Natalia Elena Massi found out there was a flood in Venice, she immediately packed her bags and decided to explore it firsthand. And even though it wasn’t the first time she went there, the whole experience still took her by surprise.
“I heard about the flood from the news,” she told Bored Panda. “I live in Italy, in Brescia, a city 100 kilometers (62 miles) away from Venice. We know there are floodings in Venezia. The Venetians are used to it, but this time it was an exceptionally high tide.”
“I love Venice, and I visit it whenever I can. This time, I decided to go and photograph the city with the hope of finding it beautiful anyway”
“I thought, ‘I’m so close to Venice, and there’s such an extraordinary event (the water reached 187 centimeters (6 feet 1 inch)), I have to see it with my own eyes”
“I was also curious to understand how it’s possible to live with the constant concern of being flooded. So, on November 16th, I decided to go”
Natalia spent the entire day there. The biggest challenge for her was simply getting around in so much water
“I hadn’t thought about how difficult it could be. Imagine walking for hours with water well above your knees”
At first, she wore the high galoshes that she purchased after arriving at the lagoon. “My rain boots only reached the knee: they were not enough to cover me. The high galoshes would have had to protect me until the middle of the thigh, but in reality, they got pierced only half an hour into the walk and the water started instantly filling them.” Because of that, the photographer had to constantly stop to empty the galoshes until she finally decided to take them off completely. “After all, I was already so, so wet.”
“I worked in manual mode, I didn’t want to leave anything to chance”
“I had to change settings often based on the scene but also in situations with less light (narrow alleys) or more light (bigger alleys or squares with water reflection)”
In the end, everything paid off. “I have met incredible people, proud and courageous men who were not defeated by the flood. Even though most shops were closed, the few that were open were happily letting in people just to protect them from the weather. Some of them were preparing to re-open, others were … pumping out water and keeping the growing tide under control. Many men remained at the entrance to constantly check the tide level. They were expecting 160 centimeters (5 feet 2 inches) and everyone was alerted.”
“The atmosphere was surreal,” Natalia said. “There was silence, an empty Venice, I have never seen before. The most interesting part of the journey was being able to see the majesty of the city and how its beauty was amplified by all that water.
“When I arrived at Piazza San Marco, it was closed to the public, and the water was really very high. The wind blew strongly and loudly but the view in front of me was incredible – this huge empty space, filled with water was so solemn and great that it didn’t seem real.”
“Even in tragedy, I found Venice more beautiful than ever. The water that threatened it made it even more fascinating.”