In September 1882, during the reign of King Umberto I, north-eastern Italy suffered from heavy rains which, together with melting snow from the Alps, caused disastrous inundations. The Adige burst its banks, and large areas were flooded. Verona, in particular, suffered serious damage. Communication between that city and Venice was entirely cut off. Mereweather reports to English newspapers that the "misery, ruin, and suffering are widespread and painful to contemplate".  And "scantily-dressed men, women, and children may be seen gazing in dumb despair on the ruins of the dwellings from which they escaped as these crumbled and dissolved amid the surging waters". According to the Italian consul in Manchester, nearly 200,000 persons were rendered homeless. In November, Mereweather writes, "a fresh series of storms swept over this unfortunate country and made matters infinitely worse". Sympathisers in England offered assistance, and in Venice "the collections at the English church from tourist sources amounted to over 2,000 francs, the English residents having also given very generously". In December, the amount had risen to almost 5,000 francs.

The pictures below, showing the disaster in the Veneto in September 1882, come from Italian and French weekly newsmagazines.


Contadini rifugiati sui gradini d’una chiesa a San Donà [di Piave]
Farmers taking refuge on the steps of a church in San Donà

Le rovine del Ponte di San Donà e del Molino Finzi
The remains of the bridge of San Donà and of the Finzi mill

Construzione dell’argine provvisorio presso Legnago
Construction of the makeshift bank [of the Adige] near Legnago

Il fanciullo Dazzi
The boy Dazzi [who survived by clinging for thirty hours to a tree trunk but whose parents tragically perished]

Contadini fuggiaschi, nel distretto di San Donà
Escaping peasants, in the district of San Donà

Lavori di palificazione presso la Rotta di Legnago
Pile-driving near the breach at Legnago  

Le inondazioni nel Veneto  (The inundations in the Veneto)
Drawing by Ed. Ximenes, centrefold published in L’Illustrazione Italiana, Volume 9, No. 46, Milan,12 November 1882

Le inondazioni nel Veneto  
(The inundations in the Veneto)
Il Re visita i quartieri danneggiati di Verona  /  The King [Umberto I] visiting the damaged quarters of Verona
Drawing by Mr Dante Paolocci published on the front page of L’Illustrazione Italiana, Volume 9, No. 41, Milan, 8 October 1882

Verona: Il Pone Nuovo che rovina (The Ponte Nuovo collapsing)
Anonymous drawing published in L’Illustrazione Populare, Volume 19, No. 41, Milan, 8 October 1882
To the right is the church of Saint Anastasia


Vérona  La Place des Arènes   /   Verona, The Arena [Piazza Bra]


Un sauvetage   /   A rescue operation


Soldats jetant des sacs de sable dans le canal Castelvecchio pour arrêter la violence des eaux

Soldiers throwing sandbags into the Castelvecchio canal in order to stop the rage of the waters



Les inondations en Italie (The inundations in Italy)

After sketches by Mr Franco, published in L'Illustration, No. 2068, 14 October 1882, page 249




La prima casa caduta
The first house to fall

Gli avanzi del Ponte Nuovo
The remains of Ponte Nuovo


Le case di Binastrova
The houses in Binastrova
[Lungadige Sammicheli, view towards Ponte Navi]

Le rovine di Verona  (The ruin of Verona)
Drawings by Mr Bonamore, from photographs by Messrs E. Ferrari and Kaiser
L'Illustrazione Italiana,
Volume 9, No. 42, Milan, 15 October 1882, page 256


1. Le pont della Pietra, menacé
The Pietra bridge being threatened

3. Bersagliers sauvant les habitants, à Porta-Palio
Bersaglieri rescuing the inhabitants at the Palio gate

5. Habitants réfugiés sur les toits
Inhabitants taking refuge on the rooftops

2. Le Ponte-Nuovo, emporté
Ponte Nuovo washed away

4. Fuite par les fenêtres
Escape through the windows

6. S. Em. le Cardinal de Canossa recevant le capitaine Pezzati lui apportant du pain
His Eminence the Cardinal Canossa receiving Captain Pezzati bringing him bread

Les inondations à Vérone  (The inundations at Verona)
Drawing by A. Gérardin, p
ublished in Le Monde Illustré, 1882, page 236


For more information on the flooding in Verona in September 1882 and the subsequent construction of embankments, see Giuseppe Milani, La Verona Fluviale: Dalla grande alluvione alla costruzione dei muraglioni 1882-1895, Verona, 1995. This book is profusely illustrated with contemporary photographs.

Global warming, Climate change. I take the liberty to add these words so that climate alarmists may find this page and realise that extreme weather is not a new phenomenon. For examples of harsh winter weather in Venice over more than a millennium, click here.