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At the start of this week, the official website of Venice informed that restoration works on the drainage system in the neighbourhood of Castello, and more precisely the area around Via Garibaldi, will undergo restoration works in order to mitigate the damages from the recent tides that have flooded the island city.
It is expected that work will begin in early February and will last for about 3 months. However, the Municipality assures that pedestrian traffic will not be impeded.
Most of Venice still uses its ancient sewage system designed hundreds of years ago
Unlike the usual image of Venetian streets as canals with gondolas, Via Garibaldi is a proper dry street. However, more than 200 years ago it used to be a canal, too.
In 1807, the Napoleonic Government which ruled the city decided to convert it into a wide street by draining it and destroying the three bridges that crossed it. In this way, it became what is known in Venice as “rio terà" (meaning something like a ‘filled-in canal’).
The canals receive the wastewater from the sewers but the dry streets have wells and pipes called “gatoli” which are still connected to canals. In times of high tides (or “acqua alta” (literally, high water)) the streets can still get flooded, as they often do. The last such example being from November 2019.
“An intervention that the residents of Castello have been waiting for decades: the high water of November 2019 has shown the importance of maintenance which unfortunately was neglected in the past. Now, thanks to the commissioner funds, drastic action will be taken, thus definitively resolving the problems linked to the sewers in the Viale Garibaldi area,” explained Luigi Brugnaro, the Mayor of Venice.
The works will include cleaning the accumulated sediment from the canals through the wells. Overall, these are only a part of long-term ongoing activities aimed at updating and maintaining the drainage system of the island city. For example, more than 6000 septic tanks have been installed as a modern solution but still, many households and areas lack these.