Once a route to riches and empire, the sea is now lapping at the future of Venice and other great maritime cities:

When I emerged for breakfast in my Venice hotel, a stylish establishment with fine furnishings and carpets, and a garden courtyard, there was a stench. Salt, sewage and seaweed had combined in a thick, rising miasma. The beautiful, ornate staircase led down to chaos. A round-faced, dark-haired boy aged about 10 stood at the top of the stairs, staring with some excitement down into the mess. He was a fellow guest and when he saw me about to descend, he pronounced solemnly: ‘Breakfast’s been cancelled. The kitchen’s flooded.’

Read the rest of Tom Griffiths’ essay ‘Queen of Tides’ in Aeon Magazine.

Photo by fotoviva