ABOVE: A man and a woman model Goldon plastic boots in Venice's Piazza San Marco during acqua alta.
From roughly October through April (and, increasingly, at other times of the year), low-lying neighborhoods in Venice's historic center may be flooded for several hours at a time by storm tides called "acqua alta" or "high water."
Although municipal workers set out passerelle or raised wooden walkways in critical locations during acqua alta, there are times when the only way to get around is to go wading. Venetians wear rubber boots (which are available in local hardware stores and other shops), but tourists who don't want to lug a pair of heavy rubber wellies home often settle for inexpensive plastic overshoes. The leading manufacturer of such overshoes is Goldon, and you can buy Goldon's boots from street vendors, souvenir shops, and other local merchants when acqua alta threatens.
Goldon's boots come in three sizes, weigh only 350 grams, and are packed in a small plastic pouch that easily fits into a travel tote or suitcase. The manufacturer's Web site offers the boots for 9,60 euros (yellow) or 10 euros (white or black) for delivery to postal addresses in Italy. If you live abroad, you'll need to buy the boots after you arrive in Venice, but the Goldon Web site is worth visiting so you'll know what to look for.
- Tip: Some shoes are bulkier than their size might suggest, so if you're wearing clunky shoes at the upper end of a size range, you might want to go a size larger. And if your shoes are bigger than 46 (European) or 12 (U.S.), you may need to try a popular Venetian workaround: wrapping your feet and legs in plastic garbage bags.
For more information in English, visit the Goldon Web site.
To learn more about acqua alta (including the city's warning sirens and acqua alta forecasts), read our illustrated Acqua Alta article at Veniceforvisitors.com.
BELOW: When walking in Venice's floodwaters, stay away from the edges of canals. AT BOTTOM: A poster for Goldon plastic overshoes.