Autumn shrouds Venice in a silent fog

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.

The Doge's Palace dissolves into the fog

The Doge’s Palace dissolves into the fog

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 Church of the Salute, across the Grand Canal, is barely visible through the mist

The Church of the Salute, across the Grand Canal, is barely visible through the mist

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.

A bridge to nowhere

A bridge to nowhere

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.

St Mark's Campanile stretches up into the clouds

St Mark’s Campanile stretches up into the clouds

The fog doesn’t just settle on water, it clings to buildings inland, masking their beauty from the sun.

Campo San Stefano

Campo San Stefano under the mist

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.

Radar is essential in the pea-souper

Radar is essential in the pea-souper

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.

Vaporetti water bus lines cancelled due to fog

Vaporetti water bus lines cancelled due to fog

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.

Acqua Alta, high water, forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

Acqua Alta, high water, forecast for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday

My wellies are on standby by the door!

Wellies on stand-by!

Wellies on stand-by!

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!

Palazzi merge into the mist on the Grand Canal

Palazzi merge into the mist on the Grand Canal

Useful information

For the weather forecast for Venice click here

For the Acqua Alta forecast click here

L'Accademia Bridge rises out across the misty Grand Canal

L’Accademia Bridge rises out across the misty Grand Canal

Giudecca island has completely disappeared from view from the Zattere

Giudecca island has completely disappeared from view from the Zattere

San Giorgio Maggiore across St Mark's basin hides behind the cloud

San Giorgio Maggiore across St Mark’s basin hides behind the cloud

Gondole wrapped up against the weather

Gondole wrapped up against the weather

The Grand Canal disappears into the distance

The Grand Canal disappears into the distance

A misty Bridge of Sighs

A misty Bridge of Sighs

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13 Responses to Autumn shrouds Venice in a silent fog

  1. joanfrankham says:

    absolutely beautiful photos. A very different side to Venice.

  2. Wow Venice is such a beautiful city, in any weather condition ! Your photos are breathtaking and it’s interesting to learn more about the fog and the Acqua Alta… I haven’t experienced it in Venice since I was there in summertime….
    Good luck and I’m sure your Wellies will come in handy!!!
    Salutoni!!!

    • lizbert1 says:

      Thanks, as ever, Lia! I love Venice in the fog, its such an atmospheric scene and I’d recommend it, although you’ll need to wrap up! And yes, the wellies have already had a couple of outings although with a bit of planning its been reasonably easy to avoid the aqua alta so far as its not been too serious yet! Fingers crossed! :o)

  3. Fishink says:

    Such a lovely poetic post Lizzie. You’re turning difficulties into opportunities for writing too, how very clever ! Hope your glass horse searches end in success. If you can get BBC there then watch the fourth Brian Cox prog… http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p0276q28/human-universe-4-a-place-in-space-and-time … there’s a section on Venice.

    • lizbert1 says:

      It was annoying as it foiled my plans but actually I love the atmosphere created by the fog Craig so I couldn’t be annoyed for long!! And yes, I managed to get Mum’s glass horse the next day when we had clear blue skies!!! Top tip re Brian Cox too – great programme! Thanks muchly! X

  4. rudolf says:

    What a beatiful pictures!

  5. I really enjoyed this post and your descriptions of the foggy days in Venice. The photos are wonderful as well. I have not been in Venice during this season so it was particularly interesting to read. Brava!

  6. Really beautiful photos!

  7. lizbert1 says:

    Thanks very much Margie!! Maybe next time you come, book in the winter – its quieter and although colder is often much more dramatic with the fog or piercing blue skies! Grazie mille!!

  8. Pingback: Due to fog | quo vadis venezia

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