Beaches in Venice

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San Nicolo Beach, Venice Lido

San Nicolo Beach, Venice Lido

Brompton

As many people know, coasts are always changing. Forces from the winds and waves erode coastlines and can dramatically change the landscape in as little as 100 years. An excellent example of this is the Venetian coast in Italy’s Settentrione regions of the north. Venice is the capital of the Veneto region which is in the country’s northeast corner. The coast faces out to the open sea and the force of wind and waves have, over time, built up the small islands and marshes on which Venice was built.

Venice was built as a port and was the trading centre of the western world. Its secluded location within a lagoon is bordered by the islands of Lido and Pellestrina and the sand beaches of Cavallino and Sottomarina. These long narrow islands keep the lagoon secluded and Venice very much protected from the elements of Mother Nature, except for one. During the winter months, global warming causes the normal level of the Adriatic Sea to rise. Even a small increase of the sea level can flood most of the city. Venetians have named this continual flooding "acqua alta" meaning high water. Infact, experts say that in as little as fifty years, the city could be entirely submerged. The death of Venice wouldn’t only destroy the city but will take with it some of the world’s best examples of Baroque Art and Architecture.

After centuries of flooding, the Istrian stone foundations of the city are slowly crumbling more and more each year. Amazingly, the damage in Piazza San Marco is so bad that the extravagant Basilica of Saint Mark, the most famous church in Venice and one of the most famous in Italy, is leaning slightly to the left due to its unstable foundation. But the sinking of Venice, as terrible as it is, is only part of the problem.

The islands of Lido and Pellestrina and the sand beaches of Cavallino and Sottomarina are slowly being scoured away more and more each year due to the rising Adriatic. During the summer months, replenishment is less than it was in the past due to the construction of homes and buildings along the shore and the destruction of vital sand dunes. The building of groynes and sea walls, which were intended to solve the problem, have done nothing but further worsened the situation. Continual scouring of sand would have eventually lead to the destruction of the islands, which in turn, would have opened the lagoon leaving nothing to protect Venice from the raging sea.

In the mid 90s, a large Italian firm called Mantovani S.p.A employed hundreds of people to take part in the biggest sand replenishment project the country had ever seen. Even before the project, Mantovani was renowned for its excellence in sand replenishment after bringing the then narrow beach of Lido di Camaiore in Tuscany back to its former glory as one of the country’s best beaches. Pellestrina was the most narrow of the three islands which bordered the lagoon and was the first to undergo replenishment.

Large oil tankers were used to collect thousands of cubic metres of sand from the sea floor near San Marino and transported north to Pellestrina where the sand was pumped onto the beach. Levellers and bulldozers were used to spread the sand out over a large area of the beach. This process was repeated to a lesser extent at Lido and also at Sottomarina and Cavallino.

Though the sand replenishment scheme has stabilised the islands for now, one more problem remains. Venice continues to be flooded each year due to the fact that the lagoon isn’t completely enclosed. The openings or “mouths” between the islands still allow the level of the lagoon to rise during the times of “acqua alta.” However, this is a good thing, for if these mouths didn’t exist and it was confined completely, the lagoon wouldn’t be able to rid itself of pollution therefore turning it into a stagnant pond.

A massive, two billion dollar solution to this problem has already begun construction. Project Moses calls for rows of 20 metre wide gates at three locations: the mouth of Lido, the mouth of Malamocco, and the mouth of Chioggia. At normal sea level, the gates lie flat of the sea floor and are not visible from the surface. An increase of 70 cm will activate the three rows of gates and compressed air will be pumped into them causing them to rise to the surface and separate the lagoon from the sea. When the period of high water is over, the air is released and the gates lower. This project will create 1,200 jobs and will take 8 years to complete.

Venice has been known for centuries as the world’s most unique city. A city built on water which contains some of the most famous and valuable artwork and the best examples of Baroque and Byzantine architecture in the world. Though past battles between man and Mother Nature rarely have happy endings, the safeguarding of Venice and its coast will protect one of the world’s most romantic and fascinating cities for centuries to come. 

Contributors
June 20, 2005 change by giorgio

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Lido di Venezia

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Lido di Venezia is a new website that provides information about the island of Lido Venice. Events, Concerts, theatre. It has also an hotel online reservation system

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tel:00393454599249
url:www.lidodivenezia.it
address:Lido Ve
email:info@lidodivenezia.it

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