An unusually high tide has flooded most of Venice, forcing tourists and residents to wade through knee-deep water.
Authorities say 60 per cent of the Rennaisance city’s streets are inundated.
The level is expected to peak at about 60 inches or 145 centimetres above the average sea level.
Elevated boardwalks have been hastily erected at St Mark’s Square and other landmarks.
Shops and bars are being forced to close. One businessman said: “My shop is in the basement and I’m staying here to remove the water. It’s the third night I’ve done this.”
“Here we are again,” said another. “Flooded. We just finished evacuating, we’ll have to clean up.”
At least one resident managed to hang on to the festive spirit.
“Merry Christmas. Even if this is not going to be a great day for us,” he laughed.
Venetians are largely accustomed to the “aqua alta” phenomenan which happens when strong southerly winds combine with the high tide to raise water levels.
And then, there is always a plentiful supply of gondalas if the waters get a little too deep.