The long-delayed MOSE flood barrier successfully protected Venice from inundations for the first time over the weekend, after years of problems in the lagoon city caused by high tides.
The MOSE system is designed to protect Venice from tides of up to 3 meters, which is well above current records. Saturday's successful deployment gives hope to a city affected by a dramatic fall in tourism due to COVID-19.
'We stopped the sea'
"Today, everything is dry. We stopped the sea," city mayor Luigi Brugnaro told the press, as reported by Reuters.
The MOSE system is a multi-billion-euro project comprised of a network of 78 bright yellow barriers constructed at the entrance to the Venetian lagoon. It was built to protect Venice against high tides, or "acqua alta" (high water) in Italian, driven by strong winds and rain that can have devastating effects on the city.
Last November, the worst floods to hit Venice in more than 50 years left St Mark's Square submerged under a meter of water.
This weekend, City officials had forecast a tide of 4.27 ft (130 cm), much less than the 6.1 ft (187 cm) that hit Venice in November, enough though to flood low-lying areas.
'An important day'
"Today is an important day, a historic day because we should have been full of water by now and instead we are dry," Massimo Milanese, manager of the Lavena Cafe in St. Mark’s Square, exclaimed.
As Reuters reports, skeptics have seriously questioned the feasibility of the MOSE system over the years, partly because of corruption, cost overruns, and prolonged delays.
On Saturday, however, it proved that it was up to the task against the latest "aqua alta", after preventing floods in low lying areas.
"This is a beautiful day for Venice, which has finally been saved," the ruling Democratic Party said in a statement.