An area of low pressure moving south from northern Europe has brought an abrupt end to Italy's Indian summer, with temperatures dropping by as much as 10 degrees C from one day to the next.
The Civil Protection Department issued an orange alert – one below maximum – for the entire region of Calabria, where Naples and other towns ordered schools to stay closed.
Most of Molise and parts of Basilicata and Puglia are also on orange alert. Meanwhile a less severe yellow warning was issued for Abruzzo, Calabria, Sicily and Lazio, which took the brunt of the severe weather on Sunday night.
In Rome, a long spell of hot weather broke dramatically on Sunday evening, when thunderstorms were followed by hail that turned streets white.
Major hailstorm in Rome, Italy tonight, Oct 21! Bad idea to drive in this. Report: Arianna Sasso pic.twitter.com/ZOMLWXe6fA
— severe-weather.EU (@severeweatherEU) October 21, 2018
Several motorists found themselves stranded in high water or ice, while the runoff poured into underground stations and forced the closure of at least six Metro stops and one overground station. All stations had reopened by Monday morning.
Storm runoff and huge amounts of hail in Rome, Italy last night, October 21! Video: Massimo Ribecca pic.twitter.com/fx2g0Vwu6Q
— severe-weather.EU (@severeweatherEU) October 22, 2018
The rainwater also flooded a church, San Sebastiano Outside the Walls, where up to 50 cm of water covered the floor of the historic basilica.
Agriculture association Coldiretti called the sudden hail “a calamity for Italian farming”, warning that in Lazio it may have wiped out the remains of an olive harvest already weakened by extreme weather in the spring.
The storms reached Sicily on Sunday too, where the eastern province of Catania was hit by torrential rain for the second time in three days. The downpours flooded streets that were already lined with mud and detritus from flash floods on Friday, disrupting traffic and causing flights to be diverted.
The bad weather also affected parts of northern Italy, including Milan, where strong winds toppled several trees, and Bologna, where the airport was experiencing delays due to difficult flying conditions.
Photo: Italian Fire Service