Venice, Italy, is widely considered to be one of the world's most beautiful cities. It is a city that should be seen with a loved one, and if reports are true, it should be seen before it disappears completely into the surrounding waters. Venice is sinking slowly, but as with most coastal towns and cities, the sea level is also rising.
The city was built on marshlands, a sedimentary island within a lagoon off the coast of Italy. Attila the Hun invaded Italy in 452, forcing many inhabitants to flee to the coast. A small group of islands in the center of a lagoon were collectively called Rivo Alto, or "high bank." The area soon expanded, and Ri'Alto became the center of Venice.
Venice is a warren of canals, which largely take the place of what would be roads in other cities. Gondolas and water taxis transport people to and from destinations. With water levels rising, flooding has become a serious problem and is contributing to Venice sinking. During the high tides in autumn and winter, the Piazza San Marco, the lowest area of the island, becomes totally flooded with water.
When the high tide season arrives, the streets often become blocked. Wooden walkways must be erected in order for pedestrians to walk safely. The high water level is causing damage to Venice and disruption to its inhabitants, and it has now reached the point at which city governors see the problem as critical.
Venice has always been slowly sinking. Over the last 1,000 years, it has sunk by around 2.75 inches (7 centimeters) for every century, but recent reports have stated that in the last century alone, the city of Venice has lowered by around 9.44 inches (24 cm). This may have more to do with global warming and the melting polar ice caps than with Venice sinking into its own foundations.
Global warming is an issue that is taken very seriously and is a major environmental concern for towns and cities that are coastal or built on islands. Reports have shown that the ice caps are melting at their fastest rate ever, and it is becoming a critical issue. Experts are seriously addressing the issue in order to find a solution to the problem.
The level to which Venice is sinking is now seen as critical. Many theories and concepts are being developed to stop the sinking, and city leaders are now considering investing in huge steel gates to block the floods. The cost of this project is estimated at around 2 or 3 billion euros, and it's not clear that will this enormous price tag be enough to stop the problem.
Many experts say that this solution to stop Venice from sinking can only be short term and will only help stem the floods for the next 20 or 30 years. A long-term solution must be found that includes dealing with the causes of global warming. If not, Venice's sinking may be another chapter in world history.