Flooding reached historic levels in Venice today leading to rain-soaked tourists being asked to leave the historic St Mark's Square, as large swathes of Italy experienced heavy winds and flooding, leaving at least five people dead.
Tourists were barred from the sodden area by the authorities after the 'acqua alta' (high water) peaked at more than 5ft (61 inches) by the afternoon- something that has only happened five times in recorded history.
Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia says flooding this week could reach the levels of the 1966 flood that struck Venice and devastated Florence's historic centre.
He added: 'All of Veneto is in code red alarm for this wave of bad weather.'
Nearly all of northern Italy was on alert due to the storms, with wind gusts up to 100 kilometres per hour and rainfall in some places equivalent to the amount that falls over several months.
With high winds toppled trees that killed passers-by in four incidents in Naples, Lazio and Liguria.
In Venice elevated wooden platforms usually placed on main passageways in the Renaissance city were not high enough to ensure safe passage in the low-lying square.
Families carried children on their shoulders through the surrounding streets, as schools as hospitals were closed throughout the city and people were advised not to leave their homes.
While some tourists donned thigh-high wellies, others had opted to take off their shoes and wade through the water, carrying their luggage on their head.
Authorities estimated 70 per cent of the lagoon city had been flooded by rising waters today.
The Interior Ministry urged officials in storm-struck regions, about half of the country, to consider closing schools and offices for a second day Tuesday.
Marathon runners were forced to wade through ankle-deep water in Venice after high tides flooded the city yesterday.
Proving their commitment to long-distance run instead of shying away from the problematic conditions, the runners persisted with the marathon.
Footage from the day shows runners plodding on through the flooded town as the water splashed up against their running shorts.
Onlookers came more prepared for the sticky situation, donning wellingtons and water-proof ponchos as they spectated the marathon-turned-swimming race.
One of the runners partaking in the race quipped that he should have 'hired a gondola', instead of trying to battle the floods.
Onlookers said that the conditions, which were caused by the high tide known as acqua alta from the Northern Adriatic Sea, were 'insane'.
Venice city officials said 70 per cent of the lagoon city has been flooded by waters rising 58 inches above sea level.
Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia says flooding could reach the levels of the 1966 flood that inundated both Venice and Florence.
Overcoming the tricky weather Ethiopia's Mekuant Ayenew Gebre finished first in the marathon with a time of 2.13.22.
Angela Jemesunde Tanui of Kenya took the win in 2:31:30 in the women's race.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.