Like many parts of Europe, Italy has been sweltering through a widespread, deadly heatwave for almost a week.
Weather warnings were issued for 16 Italian cities as temperatures soared into the high 30s and even above 40 degrees celsius in northern and western parts of Italy on Thursday and Friday, in what was described as “the hottest heatwave in a decade.”
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A welcome drop in temperatures brought relief to western parts of Europe on Sunday. But the reprieve was not universal, with much of Italy still baking in the high 30s on Monday.
The cities of Bolzano, Brescia and Florence remain under red alert on Monday, according to the Italian Health Ministry, with many other cities still under orange or yellow weather warnings.
Expected temperatures across Italy for July 1st 2019. Screenshot: MeteoGroup
Meanwhile parts of France, Germany and several central European nations are still feeling the heat, while Spanish firefighters are battling three major blazes with the help of more than 700 soldiers and water-bombing planes.
In Rome, Pope Francis told pilgrims on Saint Peter's Square: “I pray for those who have suffered the most from the heat in recent days; the sick, the elderly, those who work outside, on construction sites … let no one be abandoned or exploited.”
Six days of intense heat fuelled huge blazes and spikes in pollution in many countries, and officially claimed four lives in France, two in Italy and another two in Spain.
Tourists keeping cool in Rome. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
While sales of fresh fruit in Italy reportedly soared by 20 percent during the heatwave, crops in areas such as the Po plain in northern Italy were severely affected by the intense heat, according to agriicultural group Coldiretti, with losses of between 10 to 30 percent of produce such as watermelons and peppers.
Animals also suffered, with stressed cows on some farms producing up to 10 percent less milk than usual, it said.
The mercury is expected to continue rising in Italy this week before rainstorms cool things down by Wednesday or Thursday.