"Venice is a very attractive city, and it becomes a very special place when the water level is high", a Venetian resident told the European outlet.
Venice's mayor declared a state of emergency on Wednesday after "apocalyptic" floods swept through the lagoon city, flooding its historic basilica and inundating squares and centuries-old buildings. Another wave of exceptionally high water followed Wednesday.
Video on social media showed deep water flowing like a river along one of Venice's main thoroughfares.
Pierpaolo Campostrini, a member of St. Mark's council, said the scale of the flooding on Tuesday had only been seen five times in the long history of the basilica, where construction began in 828 and which was rebuilt after a fire in 1063.
Brugnaro said the damage would reach hundreds of millions of euros, and he called on Italy's government to declare a state of emergency. The water was so high that nothing less than thigh-high boots afforded protection.
While locals started a cleanup operation, some tourists appeared to enjoy the drama, with one man filmed swimming across St. Mark's Square wearing only shorts on Tuesday evening.
The exact economic impact of the flooding is unknown, but Brugnaro said the city is facing millions of euros in damages.
Venice is susceptible to some flooding - or "aqua alta", as it's regionally known - every year when high tides mix with heavy rain and strong winds.
Venice's huge St. Mark's Square, once described as Europe's living room, was submerged by more than a metre of water, while the adjacent St. Mark's Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years - but the fourth in the last 20.
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It is the worst flooding in Venice since 1966, when the city was hit by tides up to 194 cm (76.4 inches) high, according to government statistics.
Officials said a second exceptional high of 160 centimeters (63 inches) was recorded at midmorning Wednesday, but was quickly receding.
The high tide inflicted "a wound that leaves indelible marks" on the low-lying city, the mayor said. Water poured through wooden boards that shop and hotel owners have placed in front of doors during previous floods to hold back water.
Slovenia's coastal towns of Piran, Izola and Koper reported that sea levels reached the second highest point in the last 50 years.
On Wednesday morning, a number of boats were seen stranded.
More rain and strong winds are expected in the coming days, according to Luca Zaia, the President of the Veneto Region.
Since 2003, a massive infrastructure project has been underway to protect Venice, but it has been plagued by cost overruns, scandals and delays. The crypt of St. Mark's Basilica was under three feet of water despite pumping efforts.
Rising sea levels because of climate change coupled with Venice's well-documented sinking make the city built amid a system of canals particularly vulnerable.