Venice From Space Looks Very Different This Year

The Coronavirus shutdown has given us an unprecedented opportunity to look at our civilization a little differently. We all have our own ground-level view of life during this pandemic, but our satellites are giving us another look at this Earthly pause on a grand scale. The latest view comes from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel-2 mission.

Italy has been hit particularly hard by the novel coronavirus. As a result, that country went into severe lock-down, in an effort to contain the spread and save the lives of its citizens. The lock-down means that boaters have to stay home, and Venice’s famous waterways and canals are empty.

<Click to enlarge.> The waterways in Venice during Easter weekend 2020 are empty, compared to the same region one year ago. Image Credit: contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019-20), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Italy went into a nation-wide lock-down on March 9th. The Italian government urged people to stay at home, and to only leave for essential reasons. Northern Italy, where Venice is, was hit particularly hard. As a result water-traffic has plummeted drastically.

Each white streak in the 2019 image is the wake of a boat or ship. There are dozens of them. But in the image from this past weekend, there are almost none. A keen eye can spot maybe a half dozen or so.

Cruise ships are absent, too. In the 2019 image, two cruise ships are docked in the u-shaped port on the left of the island, named Stazione Maritima. But in 2020, those facilities are empty.

The famous Canal Grande, which snakes through the middle of the island, appears nearly completely empty compared to last year. And Canale Della Guidecca, which lies between the main island and the smaller island to the south, shows only a couple of wakes.

Venice’s Canal Grande in happier times. Image Credit: Unknown. CC BY-SA 3.0,

Italian news agency ANSA reported that the streets of Venice were also empty during the Easter weekend, with only police officers patrolling.

The lock-down has also made air pollution levels plummet, as Universe Today reported last week.

Evan Gough

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