We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Buon Natale....and lots of Aqua Alta

Buon Natale a tutti!! (Merry Christmas to all!). See- my Italian lessons are paying off!

This year we put up our first Christmas tree in Venice. We finally broke down and purchased a fake tree. We've always had a real tree, some years even two of them. Venice, however, is not an easy city for live trees. In fact, our Italian tutor explained to us that most of Italy uses fake trees. If you buy a live tree, you would typically plant it after the holiday in your garden. Since not too many people have gardens, there aren't many live trees. Real trees already cut don't seem to exist here at all. There are no cut Christmas tree stands on every street corner like we are used to in the US. Egg nog isn't readily available here, either, by the way!!

We contemplated finding a live tree, even a small one, however we'd have to haul it across Venice, then also deal with how to discard the tree once the holidays were over. It all seemed way too much work. So, we made our way to the Panorama in Marghera by bus, purchased an acceptable fake tree and some Italian lights to put on it, and hauled it home. Constructing the tree was a breeze; in fact, way less work than we ever expected. We actually had fun! We even hung lights on our balcony. No one decorates the houses here like we are used to in the U.S. No Santas and reindeer on the rooftops, no lights surrounding every door and window, not even wreaths on the doors. About the only exterior decoration we see is a Babbo Natale (Santa Claus) hanging outside a window or on a balcony.

Most of our friends and family in the United States are enjoying a very White Christmas after this past week's blizzard. My mom tells me more is predicted for today.

We did have some snow on Saturday (photos in my last post), about 4 inches, which lasted maybe a day on the ground. However, we've had Aqua Alta every day this week. Really high water! I wish I had photos to post, unfortunately these all occurred during the night, so the water had receeded by morning, at least in our neighborhood.

There's a siren warning system when Aqua Alta (high water) is going to happen, which gives you a bit of time to prepare. About 3 hours before peak tide, the sirens go off all over the city. There's one long loud blast, sort of like an air-raid siren, followed by a series of tones. The series of tones indicate about how high the water will be. Just the first tone indicates it will be about 6-8 inches high, on up to 4 tones, which signifies water over 140 cm (thats's about 4 1/2 feet). Every night this week the water has been between 130-144 cm high, in the lowest parts of the city, about 2 feet high back where we live in Santa Croce.

When the sirens go off, you scurry around to make sure things are elevated and won't get soaked, and also make sure you know where your boots are! We've had water come in the foyer every time, it seeps in under the front door. It takes a little getting used to, for sure.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all !!!!


abartoszek06 said...

Hi there,

We live in Maniago, Italy, near Aviano Air Base (about an hour train from Venice). I just want to say I love reading your blog. We do not experience near the amount of culture hardships as you because we have the base amenities available to us. Just wanted to say I enjoy your writing and want to wish you and yours a Happy Holidays!

karen said...

Abartosek06---- Thank you so much, and Buona Feste to you also! You've made my day :)

Do you speak Italian? Do you ever come to Venice? I'm guessing you or a family member is in the military based at Aviano?

Ciao, Karen

abartoszek06 said...

We speak very little Italian; basically we know enough for us to get by. And yes, my husband is stationed at the base.

We come to Venice off and on; we actually came later in the day that you blogged about with the snow boots and water. :0)