Thursday, November 15, 2012
I don't think the Tiber has ever broken over the big banks (put up in the 19th century to stop the annual flooding,) but it was looking pretty worrisome yesterday when I walked over one of the bridges in the Centro Storico. The water level almost looked high enough to reach over and touch (it wasn't but it sure seemed that way,) and I thought if anyone fell in he'd be toast. Soggy toast.
This is what the Tiber at Ponte Sisto, the bridge closest to our parish and one of the oldest bridges in Rome, looks like normally
And this is what it looks like a few days ago a couple of hundred yards downriver at Tiber Island.
I you go through the neighbourhood of the parish of Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini, between the Campo di Fiori and the Jewish Ghetto and the Theatre of Marcellus, you will see a lot of medieval houses built on top of a kind of colonnade of Roman columns, salvaged from the old temples. The spaces between the columns these days are often bricked up and turned into living spaces, but in the old days, before the banks were built, that part of the city flooded so often that you built houses that way, on stilts, to avoid getting flooded out. Most of the year you could stable your horses or house your servants there, but it was a good idea to be up as high as possible.
In Venice, of course, it's been flooded for a while, but everyone is pretty used to it...
This is how you get your morning coffee in Venice during flood season
This video must have been taken a few days ago, because it's risen at least another 8 feet since.
One guy interviewed by the BBC said as long as it doesn't go above the level of the bridge arches we'll be ok. Of course, we're only a few feet away and if it does rise over the top of the arches, the bridges will be in danger of being just pushed over and into the water. That's a hell of a lot of water pressure pouring through those arches.