Q: I just read Donna Leon’s “Acqua Alta.” I love her mysteries. She writes as if the city of Venice is as much a character as her detective, Commissario Guido Brunetti. Can you translate the title for me?
A: Yes. “Acqua alta” means high water. In his “Pocket Venice,” Rick Steves discusses this phenomenon: “Flooding affects parts of Venice about 100 times a year, usually in winter.
“It occurs when an unusually high tide combines with strong sirocco winds from Africa that push the water toward Venice, causing a surging storm tide.