Venice may be known as the Floating City of love, but romance was cast aside today as gondolas were swapped for wellington boots and swimwear.
High tides and heavy rain flooded Venice’s dry streets, leaving tourist hotspots virtually deserted.
Tourists chose to wade through the waters in boots, with one group donning swimwear to sit at a table in the iconic submerged St. Mark’s Square.
One hardy couple even decided to go for a quick swim.
Others had less enjoyable tasks, with some visitors being forced to wade through nearly waist-high waters carrying suitcases on their shoulders.
Heavy rains and seas whipped up by strong winds brought the lagoon city’s high tide mark to its sixth-highest level since records began being kept 150 years ago in 1872.
The water levels rose to critical levels overnight.
It was reported that 70% of central Venice was under water today as the high tide mark reached 59.06inches.
Those who decided to take a break from the flooded streets were captured in wellington boots standing in water in coffee shops.
Makeshift wooden walkways had to be used to cross areas of St. Mark’s square, with transportation proving difficult for residents.
Italian news reports said the same weather system causing chaos in Venice was wreaking havoc elsewhere in north and central Italy, with some 200 people evacuated from their homes in hard-hit Tuscany.
Flooding is common in the city at this time of year. Moveable barriers that would rise from the sea bed to protect Venice from high tides have been in the works for years but will not be operational before 2014.