Venice, Italy - In the wake of this week's devastating floods, Italy's most romantic tourist city has been sold to Seaworld.
Mayor of Venice, Backupo Sewero held a press conference in flooded St Mark's Square to make the dramatic announcement. Standing in armpit-high flood waters, Mayor Sewero held his speech papers above his head as he spoke to the press.
"We're sick of these floods, year in and year out," said Mayor Sewero, waving off a flock of pigeons attempting to perch on his head and shoulders.
"It's too much. How can we charge tourists outrageous and exorbitant prices for mediocre pasta and souvenirs made in China when the city is 1.6 metres under water all the time? Mamma Mia!"
Venice, often called Venice to differentiate it from cheaper copies around the world, is renowned for its romantic canals, historic architecture, opulent past, world-class art, and tourist clip joints.
However, built along an intricate network of canals and connected by hundreds of picturesque bridges, Venice is prone to annual flooding from the Adriatic Sea, made worse by global climate change.
Mayor Sewero, now attempting to balance himself whilst straddling an abandoned gondola in Piazza San Marco, continued to provide information to reporters, perched on top of St Mark's Basilica.
"We prayed and prayed for the floodwaters to recede," said a tearful Mayor Sewero of Venice, "but things haven't changed in our troubled relationship with the Vatican. That German pope wanted to extract a pledge of allowing 200,000 free German tourists a year into Venice to grant a papal indulgence and stop the floods."
"We Venetians said 'to hell' with Rome in the 1500s so why kowtow to the Vatican now?" questioned Mayor Sewero, as the relic bones of St Mark floated out of the cathedral crypt and into the Grand Canal.
The mayor then explained how the enterprising city of Venice decided to stay afloat by joining forces with international tourist attraction, Seaworld.
"Giuseppe Lecheroso, head gondolier captain, deserves the credit," explained the mayor, still trying to wave off pigeons and a flock of seagulls. "Giuseppe told us, if we can't keep the sea out, then let's keep it in. Italian genius!"
"So we contacted Seaworld and offered the whole city of Venice as an aquatic theme park," announced the mayor, swollen with pride and sea water. "Soon tourists will be able to swim with the dolphins right here in Piazza San Marco."
"And the Basilica will be converted into a world-class aquarium. See, spiny sea urchins are already encrusting the columns."
Mayor Backupo Sewero also explained that all the gondolas and gondoliers would be fitted with glass bottoms so tourists could see the rich aquatic life feeding off the raw sewerage in the city's canals for the first time.
"Tourists will be allowed to feed the fish too, for a small charge," added Mayor Sewero, flushed with pride. "Seaworld suggested we make all the toilets coin operated. It should be a big hit with the bambinos when they go to potty and watch the sea bass feeding below."
The mayor insisted many of the new tourist attractions will be priced for the budget traveller.
"We were lucky to have just purchased several used Russian submarines that we were going to use as underwater cemetery crypts since we have no more land space," said Mayor Sewero. "But as soon as Health and Safety have finished their inspections, tourists will be able to take discounted submarine rides under the Grand Canal."
Seaworld has confirmed the deal to turn Venice into its newest aquatic theme park. Seaworld Venice is set to open in the coming months.
Mayor Sewero, now pulling leeches off his legs in the rising waters of St Mark's Square, concluded his press conference as he was drowned out by the wail of warning sirens ahead of the oncoming high tide.
"Please come to Seaworld Venice and bring the whole family," gurgled Mayor Sewero before going under for the third time with an albatross wrapped around his neck.
Resurfacing one last time with a jellyfish attached to his chin, the mayor managed to shout out to an aide, "Please call my wife and tell her, anything but fish for dinner tonight."