Venice is the capital of the Veneto region. In 2009, there were 270,098 people residing in Venice's comune (the population estimate of 272,000 inhabitants includes the population of the whole Comune of Venezia; around 60,000 in the historic city of Venice (Centro storico); 176,000 in Terraferma (the Mainland), mostly in the large frazioni of Mestre and Marghera; 31,000 live on other islands in the lagoon). Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE) (population 1,600,000).
The name is derived from the ancient Veneti people who inhabited the region by the 10th century BC. The city historically was the capital of the Venetian Republic. Venice has been known as the "La Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals". Luigi Barzini described it in The New York Times as "undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man". Venice has also been described by the Times Online as being one of Europe's most romantic cities.
The Republic of Venice was a major maritime power during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and a staging area for the Crusades and the Battle of Lepanto, as well as a very important center of commerce (especially silk, grain, and spice) and art in the 13th century up to the end of the 17th century. This made Venice a wealthy city throughout most of its history. It is also known for its several important artistic movements, especially the Renaissance period. Venice has played an important role in the history of symphonic and operatic music, and it is the birthplace of Antonio Vivaldi.
From BBC: Venice ’70 per cent underwater’
Around 70 per cent of Venice was flooded after several days of relentless rain and rising sea levels, which reached a peak of 1.5 metres (five feet) above normal – the sixth highest tide levels since 1872.
‘Acqua alta' occurs mainly between autumn and spring when a combination of astronomical tides, scirocco (strong south winds) and seiche (the periodic movement of sea waters) can cause a larger inflow of water into Venice.
Elsewhere in Italy, the bad weather led to the evacuation of 200 people in Tuscany, as the heavy rain flooded homes and caused mudslides.
The most affected region was the province of Massa and Carrara, which produces the famous Carrara marble.
Streets in Pisa were also flooded and homes left without electricity.
The bad weather is said to be heading slowly towards the centre of the country and is set to hit Rome.