ROME               -            The ambitious plan to protect the Italian canal city of Venice from severe flooding went through its first dry run this week and had good early reviews. Venice, in Italy’s northeastern coastline, was battered by record flooding in November 2019. Waters rose 1.87 meters (74 inches) above normal, leaving two people dead and causing more than 1 billion euros (1.1 billion U.S. dollars) in property damage, including harm to some of the city’s cultural riches. Flood risks are not new to Venice, which is made up of 118 small islands divided by canals and lagoons. Starting in 2003, the Italian government began the development of a complex set of gates aimed at keeping water levels from rising too high in the city. But the 5.5-billion euro project, called MOSE -- an acronym for Modulo SperimentaleElettromeccanico (Italian for “Electromechanical Experimental Module”) -- was not yet ready to reduce the impacts of last year’s flood. Based on the first full-scale test of MOSE this week, the project soon will be ready. The test moved 20 of the 78 water gates designed to block water level rise at four key junctures.