Italy is one of the most popular destinations for UK tourists looking to take a break in Europe. A country that is famed for its stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, historic cities, and of course, its distinctive gastronomy, Italy attracts visitors from all over the globe. Often synonymous with temperate weather, Italy has hit the headlines in recent weeks as a result of extreme conditions, with deadly storms battering several cities and seaside towns. Torrential downpours have contributed to flooding in the popular tourist destination of Venice and threatened the lives of many living in the communities worst affected. If you’re thinking of travelling to Italy, or you have a trip booked in the near future, hopefully, you’ll find this article useful.
The eye of the storm: which parts of Italy are affected?
Many news stories that have been published and shared recently have focused on Venice, which is currently under water, but problems are widespread. Italian storms have caused significant damage and major disruption in a number of locations. Prolonged periods of rain have caused the quaint, cobbled streets of Venice to become submerged, the Liguria coastline has been battered by heavy downpours and strong winds, and the regions of Abruzzo and Lombardia are also on high alert. Rome has also been affected, with severe weather warnings in place, and the coastal towns of the Lazio region have also suffered.
At the Savona Auto Terminal in the North of the country, a storm surge caused a huge jet of water to rise up, saturating a collection of hundreds of brand new cars and causing the engine batteries to short-circuit resulting in raging fires. Italian fire crews managed to dampen the flames, but entire fleets were lost. Several of the cars that were destroyed were luxury vehicles, which were in storage ready for export. Winds measuring up to 110mph were recorded during the week of 28th October.
The impact on local communities
News reports suggest that there have been 11 deaths as a result of extreme weather, and several coastal communities are struggling to deal with the aftermath of extended spells of rain and damage caused by powerful winds. The people of Venice, who may well be more used to flooding than others, have rallied in the wake of the storm, and the Venice Marathon went ahead as planned, despite the fact that the water level was rising. Runners braved the weather, wading through calf-height water to reach the finish line. In Rome, major tourist sites, such as the Colosseum, have been closed to protect tourists, and residents and visitors have been advised against visiting coastal areas in the Liguria region.
The most common cause of death was falling trees, with motorists and pedestrians affected. A landslide in Trento caused the death of a woman, while a man was killed while surfing in Emilia-Romagna. Police in Veneto also confirmed that a man had lost his life after he was dragged more than half a mile away from his car by strong currents.
Travel disruption and advice for tourists
Flights to Italy were cancelled and delayed as storms raged, but conditions are slowly improving. Airports, including Genoa, have been closed, but flights are now running more regularly. The weather is likely to impact British tourism, and the latest travel advice is to check flight details and keep an eye on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. There are still severe weather conditions threatening several areas, including Abruzzo, Lombardia, Veneto and Liguria, and tourists should also be aware of the impact of earlier storms. Major attractions in many of the most popular spots for British tourists, including the Colosseum and Forum in Rome and Venice’s St Mark’s Square, have been closed temporarily, and some transport services are not running. If you have flights to Italy booked for a holiday or a work engagement, or you’re planning to travel by boat or cruise liner, it’s a good idea to contact the airline or operator for the latest information. If flights are running, it’s wise to be prepared for disrupted timetables and delays. Visitors may also benefit from checking the latest weather reports for their destination.
The autumn and winter months often bring high winds and the occasional storm to Italy, particularly the northern and coastal regions, but storms of such potency are not normal. The most recent storms have caused widespread damage and travel disruption, and eleven people have lost their lives. The advice for British tourists planning to visit the affected areas is to keep an eye on developments and listen out for updates from airlines and tour operators. The situation is easing, but there are still weather warnings in place, and some of the major tourist attractions may not be accessible.