I'm sure you've heard lately about how the Venetian waters are now crystal clear thanks to the local lockdown, and how pods of dolphins and schools of fish have been seen swimming freely in the famously murky lagoon. I asked a friend of mine, a professor at the University of Venice, about this last week.
First he told me that luckily (and perhaps surprisingly) to date none of his family have had the virus. Then he told me that the clear water isn't because of ‘lack of pollution’, which is what much of the news media has been saying. He instead attributed it to a lack of disturbance, as the sediment that sits at the bottom of the lagoon isn’t being churned up by the daily traffic of boats and gondolas.
And the Prof also told me another surprising thing: despite living in a country hit hard by COVID-19 and hearing all the time about the human cost, he currently feels unusually free in his home environment. In the absence of tourists, the small local population can see their city in a different light for the first time.