Residents and tourists waded through knee-deep water Monday as they navigated the city's narrow streets and alleys, and its historic St. Mark's Square was inundated. Boxes of tourist merchandise floated inside the flooded shops around the square and even the city's famed pigeons sought refuge on rooftops and windowsills.
City officials said the tide peaked at 61 inches (156 centimeters), well past the 40-inch (110-centimeter) flood mark, as strong winds pushed the sea into the city.
Workers were unable to install the traditional raised wooden walkways used during flooding because the water rose so high the platforms would have floated away too.
''There are very few streets that are water-free,'' admitted city spokesman Enzo Bon.
In an ironic twist, the flooding also idled the city's water buses because their boarding platforms were underwater.
It was the fourth highest tide since 1872, when the city started keeping records. The last time Venice saw such high waters was in 1986, while the all-time record was 76 inches (194 centimeters) in 1966.