#1095. The Venice Mose

By Pascal Ollier | Travel Photography

Mar 02

After our Summer holidays in Tuscany, we had planned to go to Venice with some friends for a long weekend in the fall.Alas, the Italian health minister issued some stern instructions that one could not enter Italy without a less than 72-hour old PCR test. Our friends balked and stayed home.

Since we had been house bound and not taking any risk, we decided to indeed try our luck (tests, like masks before, were then hardly available). Faithful to the reputation of any government authority, there was zero control at any train station, border, airport, you name it. And what a great opportunity to take some shots of this one-of-a-kind city.

Few people around, reasonably good weather, dolce vita was beckoning.

Venice cannot be mentioned without a special word for its gondolas.

The weather was quite good in early autumn, but we still had a fair share of rain.

As you certainly know, the city’s weak point is its tendency to suffer from floods.

Our weekend was very special in that regard. A once in a lifetime experiment: it was the occasion for the city to try its famous “Mose” for the very first time.

Mose (which stands for Modulo Sperimentale Elettronico) is a composition of mobile hydraulic vanes destined to isolate the Venice laguna to protect it from high tide.

Again, in typical Italian fashion, it was delivered late (original project dates back to the 1970s) and vastly over budget (including briberies…). So, everyone was holding his/her breath: was Mose going to, finally, protect the city, its inhabitants, its buildings, its businesses/shops, museums?

During our stay, for its first genuine “live” test ever, it proved efficient.

Yes, there was a higher-than-normal water level in parts of the city including on San Marco as this sea gull will demonstrate, but nothing compared to what would have happened without the Mose. Venice and its iconic landmarks remained safe.

We were thus able to continue our visit, without having to don boots or other special gear.

Because beyond all the all too well-known places, walking in the back streets can prove just as rewarding, with fewer crowds.

Our friends have remained safe and so have we, and we are hoping to go back, for a longer time period next Spring. We are greatly looking forward to it.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and stay optimistic


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  • Dallas says:

    Pascal, thanks for showing us that Venice can be relative free of people, love your images.

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Thank you, Dallas, much appreciated; we were fortunate indeed, despite the situation.
      Sometimes, one must not take no for an answer…

      Stay safe.

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Pascal – what can I possibly say? – I guess you washed most of the tourists away, with the marea – the four horses on the portico of San Marco are replicas now, but you can still see the originals inside.

    Half a century ago, my plane from Australia – or rather a commute ATI flight from Fiumicino – decanted me at Marco Polo and I “bussed” it into town. You didn’t need galoshes in those days, the floods came much later. And it was magic – day or night.

    I spent 3 months there – mostly in the Veneto – armed with one of the best cameras in the world. And I was so taken with what I was seeing that the camera was scarcely used, at all. I was too busy “seeing” everything! Living with friends, living as a local – “living”, looking, seeing, experiencing it all. Somehow the camera was simply forgotten.

    Thanks for sharing – your images are magnificent, as always – and bring back treasured memories of happy times, long ago.

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Dear Pete, thank you for your kind comments. Venice can indeed be enchanting, may it be in the famous spots everyone visits or in the narrow back streets where one desperately tries to locate a locanda or a special artisan.
      When there are less people, it makes the exercise all the more enjoyable. We have now penciled down a possible visit in May, if so, I will gladly attempt to report back.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        Suggestion – because I had friends living nearby (just the other side of Udine), we didn’t really follow the “tourist trail”.

        Like many places in Europe, it’s often far more enchanting and far more interesting if you dodge the tourists and head off elsewhere.

        Murano glass? – shops all over the place. But did you know there are two versions – a “store front” version for tourists, and a “back room” for collectors? Up front, bright & colourful, yeah yeah yeah. Out the back, the stuff that dreams are made of – and most certainly, the stuff on which the reputation of Murano glass was built. I still have flashbacks, thinking about the pieces they showed me, all those years ago.

        Dining? – we walked past the Doge’s palace and kept going, till we found ourselves down by the Arsenal. (“Shipyards”, to the great unwashed). And on the water’s edge, something reminiscent of a french bistro – even down to the detail, that to sit down, first you had to get someone on one or other side of the empty chair to pull their chair out, so you could get in. Fixed three course menu. The workers from the nearby Arsenal would eat there. Sounds awful? Well it wasn’t – cheapest dining in town, and the food was unbelievably good!

        But none of those fashionable modern arguments about – oh no, I can’t eat that, I’m gluten intolerant – and so on. Just eat what you’re given and be grateful.

        And the canals and “**cio’s” at night, with their “mini Rialto’s” and the night lights – the stuff that dreams are made of.
        **mini canals (AKA mini rivers)

        Maybe it’s just my introversion shining through, and the fact I don’t “get off” on large crowds. Maybe it’s just my delusional belief that the “real Italy” is hidden away from the “showcase” version.

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    Pascal, you have made me yearn to visit Venice once again! Your beautiful images make me believe that Venice is, in fact, your muse. Thank you for sharing this post and the news that the MOSE is working to protect this iconic city.

    • Pascal Ollier says:

      Dear Nancy, thank you so much for the kind words! Not only because compliments coming from you have a special meaning but if this post has made you wish to go back to Venice, then mission accomplished!

  • Zelma van Wyk says:

    What a great set of images Must have been great without the crouds

  • Dan says:

    Sigh – I really want another Italian vacation. Hopefully before the crowds will return.

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