Venice's Beloved Canals Are Drying Up — See the Photos

The city's smaller canals have been affected by Venice's current drought.

A covered gondola on a dry canal for low tide in Venice, Italy

Alessandro Bremec/Getty Images

Visitors heading to Venice may not see as many of the city's picturesque canals, or potentially enjoy a gondola ride, as the waterways have dried up due to a high-pressure weather system sitting over Italy.

The dry weather has led to a stretch of ebb tides — or a receding current — that has left several of the city’s smaller canals dry and unable to support boat traffic, The Associated Press reported. That, in turn, has meant tourists can’t explore many of the beautiful secondary waterways by gondola as the canals often serve as Venice’s streets in the car-less city, and even meant ambulance boats have had trouble reaching their destinations.

The weather problems are multifaceted, blamed on a combination of lack of rain, a high pressure system, a full moon, and sea currents, Reuters reported.

"We are in a water deficit situation that has been building up since the winter of 2020-2021," climate expert Massimiliano Pasqui from Italian scientific research institute CNR said, according to Reuters. “We need to recover 500 millimetres in the north-western regions: we need 50 days of rain.”

Venice has taken steps in recent years to protect its waterways and combat overtourism, including banning large cruise ships from the lagoon basin near St. Mark's Square and the Giudecca Canal and declaring the waterways around Venice a "national monument.” The city’s efforts have earned it a reprieve from being included on the UNESCO World Heritage danger list.

A general view of a dry canal for low tide, under a bridge in Venice, Italy

Alessandro Bremec/Getty Images

Venice also plans to implement a fee for day trippers, but the start has been postponed and it was not immediately clear when it would go into effect.

While the smaller canals have been impacted by the drought conditions, the wider main waterways, like the Grand Canal, remain navigable, the AP noted.

Venice also isn’t alone in dealing with weather-related issues. In the Alps, several ski resorts were forced to close in January due to a lack of snow and unseasonably warm temperatures, CNN reported.

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