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Saving Venice airs Sunday 20 November on SBS



Tonight Sunday 20 November 2022 SBS air the documentary Saving Venice.

One of the most famous cities on earth, Venice is characterised by its geographical location, which also makes it susceptible to flooding. The entire city is supported by the early settlers’ method of hardening the soft mud of the lagoon by driving wood piles into it. Samples from piles that are more than a thousand years old demonstrate how the mud slows the water’s rot of the wood, but more frequent floods pose a new threat. Restoration workers are rushing to remove the salt that has been left behind on the city’s monuments after it evaporated because it crystallises and weakens the walls’ structural integrity. The MOSE, a multibillion euro system of flood barriers, is now ready to defend the city after decades of construction. The three confined inlets that connect the lagoon to the ocean are divided by gates.

The future of Venice and an explanation of its current problems can be found in the city’s relationship with the lagoon. Massive engineering projects kept the lagoon from becoming dry land in the 15th century as it was silting up, but this led to more frequent floods. In the meantime, Venice’s trading power was diminished by the new routes to the Americas. The city had to reinvent itself as a vital travel hub in order to survive. Nowadays, Venice receives millions of visitors each year. West of the city, a channel is crowded with enormous cruise ships and cargo ships. The wakes from these large ships are rapidly eroding the salt marshes, raising the risk of flooding, while smaller motorboats are causing damage to the canal walls. A city devoid of motorised boats is celebrated at gatherings like the Regatta Storica. When faced with the prospect of losing their city to climate change, Venetians are turning to cutting-edge engineering, environmental restoration, and historical knowledge. They can only have a chance of saving Venice by employing several strategies.

Airdate: Sunday 20 November 2022 at 7.30pm on SBS.