IN PHOTOS: Silent squares and clear waters as Venice stands empty

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IN PHOTOS: Silent squares and clear waters as Venice stands empty
The waters of the Grand Canal in Venice run clear on March 18th. All photos: Andrea Pattaro/AFP

The canals of Venice are running clear without the usual boat traffic, after tourists abandoned the city and locals have been told to stay indoors.


The city of Venice is enjoying crystal clear waters in its world-famous canals due to a lack of debris from tourists and near-zero boat traffic under Italy's ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

The clear waters are one bright spot in the city, whose economy has been virtually wiped out since tourists fled the area beginning last month, spooked by the spread of coronavirus in the country's north.

Hotels, restaurants, cafés and most businesses have been shuttered since the area was put under lockdown on March 9, and residents ordered to stay inside and avoid travel.

That has had a drastic effect on Venice's normally polluted waters, where speedboats churn up mud, and discarded plastic and other garbage from tourists float in its canals.

Images of the welcome change were first posted on the Facebook group "Venezia Pulita (Clean Venice)," with residents sharing photos of tiny fish swimming in usually opaque waters, or cormorant, egrets and other birds enjoying the lack of boat traffic in the city's canals.

"Stay at home - and nature thanks you," commented one Italian woman, Monica La Rosa, on the site.

On Wednesday, only an occasional police or ambulance speedboat was seen in the nearly empty city, as lines of docked gondolas protected by blue covers bobbed under sunny skies.

Venice is located in the Veneto region, one of the areas worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

The flight of tourists – more than five million of whom visited Venice in 2018 – has shut down commerce within the city, which was already reeling from disastrous flooding in November.

OPINION: After flooding and coronavirus, is it time Venice stopped relying on tourism?


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Anonymous 2020/04/17 16:07
Choose. Clean waters OR destroyed economy.
Anonymous 2020/03/21 16:16
One assumes that the reduction in tourist numbers visiting for the day or staying in hotels has reduced the amount of sewage and waste water entering the canals. I would have thought this was quite possibly the largest contributing factor in being able to actually see the bottom of some canals. Fewer water buses also helps.

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