Tourists, Venetians slosh through flooded lagoon city

Tourists and Venetians have donned high boots and taken to raised walkways to slosh their way through high water in the lagoon city

Tourists and Venetians alike donned high boots and took to strategically placed raised walkways on Tuesday to slosh through the high water that has hit much of the lagoon city.

Venice's tide forecast office said the water level peaked at 1.27 meters (about 4 feet 3 inches) Tuesday morning but warned that an even higher tide was forecast for after nightfall.

The high water invaded cafes, stores and other businesses. Sirens warned people in Venice of the rising water, and as a precaution, authorities closed nursery schools.

A top tourist attraction, the Ducal Palace, just off St. Mark's Square, tweeted that it's "open today, despite the exceptional tide," and advised visitors to use the raised walkways leading to its entrance.

Many hotels keep disposable knee-high plastic boots handy for tourists. Venetians' wardrobes often include over-the-knee rubber boots.

As the phenomenon of high water, locally known as "acqua alta," goes, the levels Tuesday, while amusing for tourists and a nuisance for residents going about their business, were far lower than the 1.94 meters (6 feet 4 inches) in the devastating November 1966 flood in Venice.

But even lesser levels of the salty high water, over the years, take their toll on the city, eroding foundations of homes, businesses and city buildings.

Bad weather is continuing to dog Italy, with no real let-up forecast for several days.

In Policoro, a southern town in an area known for its ancient Greek ruins, a whirlwind ripped the roofs off two homes, but the occupants inside escaped injury, Italian news reports said.

In that same region of Basilicata, swaths of the tourist town of Matera, famed for its Sassi former cave dwellings, were flooded after heavy rains.