Tourists swim in Venice's iconic St Mark's Square as Floating City is flooded by high tides

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  • 70 per cent of central Venice underwater today reaching 59 inches
  • Tourists waded through waters in wellington boots and donned swimwear
  • Iconic St Mark's Square flooded leaving normally bustling square deserted

By Larisa Brown

PUBLISHED: 11:44 EST, 11 November 2012 | UPDATED: 11:35 EST, 12 November 2012

It may be known as the Floating City of love.

But romance was cast aside today as gondolas were swapped for wellington boots and swimwear.

High tides and heavy rain flooded Venice's dry streets, leaving tourist hotspots virtually deserted.

Tourists chose to wade through the waters in boots, with one group donning swimwear to sit at a table in the iconic submerged St Mark's Square.

Scroll down for video

People sit at the table of a bar in a flooded St. Mark's Square today after high tides have flooded the romantic city in Italy

People sit at the table of a bar in a flooded St. Mark's Square today after high tides have flooded the romantic city in Italy

A young man and a woman enjoy swimming in a deserted square that is usually dry and inundated with tourists

A young man and a woman enjoy swimming in a deserted square that is usually dry and inundated with tourists

People take a coffee break in a flooded shop as rainfall reached 59inches in Venice

People take a coffee break in a flooded shop as rainfall reached 59inches in Venice

One hardy couple even decided to go for a quick swim.

Others had less enjoyable tasks, with some visitors being forced to wade through nearly waist-high waters carrying suitcases on their shoulders.

Heavy rains and seas whipped up by strong winds brought the lagoon city's high tide mark to its sixth-highest level since records began being kept 150 years ago in 1872.

The water levels rose to critical levels overnight.

It was reported that 70per cent of central Venice was under water today as the high tide mark reached 59.06inches.

Water, water everywhere: The usually crowded Saint Mark's Square was deserted as flood waters rose making it impossible to visit

Water, water everywhere: The usually crowded Saint Mark's Square was deserted as flood waters rose making it impossible to visit

Washed out: The view towards St Mark's Basin looks a little different from normal. More than 70 per cent of Venice has been left flooded after the city was hit by a high tide

Washed out: The view towards St Mark's Basin looks a little different from normal. More than 70 per cent of Venice has been left flooded after the city was hit by a high tide

A tourist crosses flooded the iconic square carrying a suitcase on her shoulder while wading through the waters

A tourist crosses flooded the iconic square carrying a suitcase on her shoulder while wading through the waters

Wearing plastic bags to cover his legs, a tourist carries two suitcases in flooded waters

Wearing plastic bags to cover his legs, a tourist carries two suitcases in flooded waters

70per cent of central Venice was underwater today

70per cent of central Venice was underwater today

A shop assistant controls the tide that threatens to inundate his shop in the romantic city

A shop assistant controls the tide that threatens to inundate his shop in the romantic city

Those who decided to take a break from the flooded streets were captured in wellington boots standing in water in coffee shops.

Makeshift wooden walkways had to be used to cross areas of St Mark's square, with transportation proving difficult for residents.

Italian news reports said the same weather system causing chaos in Venice was wreaking havoc elsewhere in north and central Italy, with some 200 people evacuated from their homes in hard-hit Tuscany.

Flooding is common in the city at this time of year. Moveable barriers that would rise from the sea bed to protect Venice from high tides have been in the works for years but will not be operational before 2014.

Parents carry their children and possessions wrapped in carrier bags in a small street today

Parents carry their children and possessions wrapped in carrier bags in a small street today

Tourists walk on footbridges near the Rialto bridge as heavy rain puts a dampener on their tour of the city

Tourists walk on footbridges near the Rialto bridge as heavy rain puts a dampener on their tour of the city

One tourist takes off their boots to walk on a makeshift footbridge in the rain

One tourist takes off their boots to walk on a makeshift footbridge in the rain

VIDEO: Tourists wade in waist-high water in the heart of the ancient city

 
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