Venice, La Riva degli Schiavoni

Most bridges in Venice are built on this model. They start low, about half a meter above the level of high tide, and arch up fairly steeply to provide about a two-meter clearance for boats passing underneath. This bridge differs only in being considerably wider than usual. It needs to be, as this is the busiest walkway in Venice.

Venice is built on a tidal lagoon, and the low-lying quays, such as the one seen here, regularly flood at high tide when weather conditions cause a rise in the north end of the Adriatic Sea. Unless the proposed flood barrier is actually built (which remains far from certain), Venice will suffer from flooding with sufficient frequency to seriously impair the passage through its streets.

Flooding causes a second problem: when the water is high, boats can no longer pass beneath the bridges, which brings most freight delivery to a halt.

The Riva degli Schiavoni is the broadest walkway in Venice. It faces south, so it's one of the sunniest spots in the winter. With the tremendous growth of tourism, there are usually many more people to be seen here today than when this photograph was taken. It can, in fact, get so crowded as to impede free passage.

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