As the mist rolls in to shroud the magical city it creates an eerie watery light. Buildings disappear into the clouds. Fog-horns blare from deep within the haze. And sitting on the canal side feels like sitting on the edge of an abyss. Autumn has arrived in Venice.
I’ve been looking forward to this all summer. I love the changing of the seasons and the sea fogs that slip silently across the lagoon. And this week has seen a marked shift with bright summer sunshine yesterday followed by a thick pea-souper today.
The temperature has dropped several notches and the air pricks the skin with its tiny droplets. You can see your breath when you talk. And everyone is wrapped up in downy jackets, scarves and beanies against the chill. Flip flops and t-shirts are packed away for this year.
But the city still looks beautiful in this autumnal weather. Taxis loom out of the wispy cotton-wool clouds as gondolas glide silently past. Tour guide commentaries can be heard from within the mist but the tour boats remain hidden. The opposite banks of canals dissolve away as a white veil falls across churches and palazzi. The car-ferry’s muffled horn blasts every few seconds as it inches slowly down the Giudecca Canal. And historic buildings seem smaller somehow, their sharp edges softened and blurred by the mist.
The fog doesn’t just settle on water, it clings to buildings inland, masking their beauty from the sun.
But it’s not all picturesque photo opportunities. Waterbuses running out of San Mark’s basin and across parts of the lagoon are suspended due to bad visibility. The boats that are running, including the airport shuttles, use radar to detect the radar deflectors on the wood pillings to trace the channels through the lagoon. I imagine it’s like playing a video game.
But not all boats have radar and the basin doesn’t have marked channels so traffic in the centre grinds to a halt. It’s simply too dangerous to navigate blind in the fog which puts a kibosh on many travel plans but Venetians are used to needing a plan B.
It isn’t unusual for sea fogs to descend upon the city throughout Autumn and Winter. It adds a magical quality to the mystical republic. And with the first fog comes the first proper high water later this week. So far we’ve just been playing at aqua alta with a few piddling centimeters of influx. But 5 days of high water are forecast from Wednesday, the peak reaching 130cm, a full 50cm above normal tidal rises.
My wellies are on standby by the door!
And so the seasons turn once more. Misty mornings replace summer sun. Boats glide silently, invisibly across the water, muffled and hidden by the mist. And the sun tries in vane to break through the watery veil. Temperatures are dropping and the autumn chill is setting in as the city starts to empty of tourists and slow down for winter. I think this is going to be one of my favourite months! So what do you like best about the changing seasons? Leave a comment and let me know. And in the meantime, if you are heading for the serene city, make sure to pack your camera, winter coat and wellington boots!
For the weather forecast for Venice click here
For the Acqua Alta forecast click here
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