In my last post I told you about austerity protests and flooding in Rome. I didn’t know then what I know now, however, so here’s an update.
I read in someone’s blog that the torrent of water from Northern Italy caused the Tevere to rise 3.49 meters in Rome, which is about 11.5 feet. I think it may have been around 15 or so feet on our section of the Tevere. On Thursday, the worst day, the river rose almost to the base of the oculus on the Ponte Sisto bridge. One blog said that if the river begins flowing through the oculus, a flood warning goes into effect and it’s time to evacuate Rome. If that’s true, and I don’t know that it is, thank goodness the river stopped just short of the oculus, because our apartment is below street level, and we’d be flooded for sure!
The river rose at least 11.5 feet, because by Friday the flood was almost gone, leaving debris high on the outcroppings on the north side of the Ponte Sisto and freeing several trees that had been submerged. Today I could see a bit, but not all, of the walking and bike paths along the Tevere, and the water is still swift and muddy. We’re off to Florence and Venice with daughter Kate the first week of December, so cross your fingers that the weather cooperates!
The protests that I described were much more violent than I realized. On November 15 Wanted in Rome, a local e-zine, posted a description of the clashes between protesters and police, saying: “The anti-austerity demonstrations held in Rome on 14 November led to clashes between protesters and police, with the main action taking place on the Lungotevere near Ponte Sisto. There were 30 injured, among them 16 police, 60 people detained and so far three arrests, although this number could rise over the coming days as police investigate over 140 identified suspects. The various protests, which were part of the European Day of Action and Solidarity, caused severe disruption to traffic, particularly on the Lungotevere. The historic centre was completely sealed off to traffic which caused tailbacks all across the city. . . . There were clashes outside the [Jewish] Synagogue on the Lungotevere after protesters threw rocks, bottles and firecrackers at police, and pulled down street signs. The police responded with teargas, and when the protesters retreated across the river to Porta Portese they were dispersed by armoured vehicles.”
A video on YouTube shows the violence. It wasn’t pretty, and it all happened just two blocks from our apartment. Yikes! Thank heaven I took the long way home that afternoon.