Venice under five feet of water as the city suffers its worst floods in 10 years

The Italian city of Venice was engulfed with water after high tides and strong winds caused the most severe flooding for a decade.

Tourists and residents donned high boots to navigate the streets of the lagoon city after water levels rose more than five feet.

The water exceeded the raised walkways normally put out in flooded areas of Venice.

Tourists and residents donned high boots to navigate the streets. Credit: AP

The flooding prompted transport officials to close the city's water bus system, except to outlying islands.

The city, famous for its canals, gondolas and beautiful churches, is frequently overwhelmed by water in the period from October to December, but the recent flooding was particularly heavy.

The peak water level was the highest it has reached in the city since December 2008, officials said.

People walk in a flooded St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy. Credit: AP

The vast expanse of St Mark's Square was transformed into a lake, and raised walkways were laid out in front of the Doge's Palace and in other parts of the city.

Runners in Sunday's Venice Marathon also had to battle the flooding, but were undeterred as they splashed their way through ankle-deep water.

Meanwhile one pizzeria refused to shut up shop, serving hordes of customers despite waiting staff having to wade through ankle-deep water.

Much of Italy is under alert for flooding from heavy rains, a problem exacerbated by a lack of maintenance of the country’s many river beds.

High winds toppled trees and killed passers-by in four incidents in Naples, Lazio and Liguria.

A woman attempts to remove water from her shop in the flooded streets of Venice. Credit: AP

Officials closed major tourist attractions early in Rome, including the Colosseum and Roman Forum, because of heavy rains.

The Interior Ministry urged officials in storm-struck regions, about half of the country, to consider closing schools and offices for a second day on Tuesday.