These are the 55 most polluted towns in Italy

Northern cities including Brescia, Lodi, Monza and Venice topped the pollution chart as Italy's environmental agency warned of a pollution "red alert".

These are the 55 most polluted towns in Italy
Photo: Pixabay

Smog and pollution are choking Italian cities year-round and many towns are exceeding their limits on fine particles and other pollution, according to a new report from Italian environmental authority Legambiente.

Its annual report, published this week, warned that 2018's figures were a “red alert” for Italy.

At least one of two daily pollution limits, on fine particles and ozone emissions, was exceeded in 55 of Italy’s regional capitals.

Unsurprisingly many of Italy’s big cities exceeded the limits. Venice was ranked fourth, closely followed by Milan, Turin and Padua. Rome was 28th and Naples 29th on the list.

Almost all of the worst affected cities are in northern Italy. Frosinone, south of Rome and an emerging centre of industry, falls outside Italy's traditional “industrial triangle” in the north-west, as does Macerata in Campania and the Sicilian town of Enna.

The main causes are reported to be industry, inefficient domestic heating systems, agricultural practices and, most of all, heavy traffic.

In Italy, cars continue to be by far the most-used means of transport. 65.3 percent of journeys are made by car, Legambiante wrote, with the emissions from some 38 million cars choking Italy’s towns and cities.

Italy has repeatedly been reprimanded by the European Union for exceeding the bloc's recommended limits on air pollution. 

READ MORE: Smog levels way above safe limits in northern Italy

Turin, Milan and Naples are the worst cities in the EU for dangerous particulate pollution, while Italy has the bloc's highest number of premature deaths from nitrogen dioxide fumes spewed out by diesel vehicles, according to the European Environment Agency.

“In Italy the lack of an effective anti-pollution strategy continues to weigh enormously,” stated Giorgio Zampetti, director general of Legambiente “and the fact is that in recent years air pollution has been dealt with in an uneven and extemporaneous manner.”

Examples of the short-term strategies currently used include the temporary ban on highly-polluting vehicles sometimes put in place in northern cities, or the so-called targhe alterne, under which cars with license plates beginning with odd or even numbers are alternately banned from the roads on Sundays.

Legambiente is instead calling for an “ambitious National Plan against pollution” which it says would introduce binding targets and proven measures, including city-centre congestion charges like those used in the UK.

“Atmospheric pollution continues to be a constant emergency in our country,” said Zampetti. “We can no longer try to justify it with the adverse weather conditions in the Po Valley or by linking it to seasonality.”



Central and southern Italy brace for storms and heavy snow

Storms and snowfall are forecast across much of central and southern Italy over the next few days, according to weather reports.

Snow is forecast in the hills of much of central and southern Italy.
Snow is forecast in the hills of much of central and southern Italy. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP

Italy’s Civil Protection Department on Monday issued ‘orange’ alerts for bad weather along Campania’s Tyrrhenian coastline and the western part of Calabria, while Sicily, Basilicata, Lazio, Molise, Umbria, Abruzzo, central-western Sardinia, and the remaining areas of Campania and Calabria are under a lower-level ‘yellow’ weather warning.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts is warning Italy’s central-southern regions to prepare for a blast of polar air from the Arctic Circle that will bring heavy snowfall, rain and storms, reports national weather forecaster Il Meteo.

The village of Grotte di Castro in the province of Viterbo, two hours’ drive north of Rome, mountainous parts of Sardinia, and much of the province of Campobasso in the central-eastern region of Molise were already blanketed in snow on Monday morning.

The department is responsible for predicting, preventing and managing emergency events across the country, and uses a green, yellow, orange and red graded colour coding system for weather safety reports.

An orange alert signifies a heavy rainfall, landslide and flood risk, while a yellow alert warns of localised heavy and potentially dangerous rainfall.

The current meteorological conditions mean that snow is expected to reach unusually low altitudes of around 450-500 metres, with flakes already falling thickly on parts of the southern-central Apennines mountain range at 500-700 metres altitude.

The hills of Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Lazio, Sardinia, Campania, Calabria and Basilicata are likely to see heavy snow around the 500m mark, while areas at an altitude of 1000m or higher will see between 50-60 cm of fresh snow.

Affected parts of the country could see 50-60cm of snowfall.

Affected parts of the country could see 50-60cm of snowfall. Photo: Vincenzo PINTO /AFP

In areas where the snow is unlikely to reach, heavy rains and thunderstorms are anticipated, with rain forecast throughout Sardinia, Campania, Calabria and Lazio, reports Il Meteo.

Strong winds are forecast over the whole country, with the island regions of Sicily and Sardinia facing windspeeds of over 100km/hour and the risk of storm surges, according to the national newspaper La Repubblica.

READ ALSO: Climate crisis: The Italian cities worst affected by flooding and heatwaves

The north of the country, meanwhile, will see sun but low temperatures of below 0°C at night in many areas, including across much of the Po Valley.

While conditions are expected to stabilise on Tuesday, cold currents from Northern Europe are forecast to trigger another wave of bad weather on Wednesday and Thursday, with Sardinia and Italy’s western coastline again at risk of storms and heavy rainfall that will move up towards Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and Veneto in the north.