Two dead as northern Italy battered by severe storms

Two people died on Thursday and around a hundred others were evacuated in Tuscany, local authorities said, as storms, heavy rain and hail hit many parts of northern Italy.

Bad weather in Montpellier, France
Incidents including flash floods and lightning strikes are becoming more common in Italy, data shows. Pascal GUYOT / AFP

Both victims were hit by falling trees, local media reports said.

Four people were injured by toppling trees at the seaside camping site of Marina di Massa, while four others were rushed to hospital in the medieval town of Barga after the car they were travelling in was hit by a torn-off roof, according to local news site Toscana in Diretta.

READ ALSO: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The civil protection agency prepared emergency accommodation in schools and gyms for those forced from their homes after bad weather toppled trees and tore off roofs in the area.

Several regions reported serious incidents involving both people and property on Thursday.

High winds sweeping through St Mark’s Square in Venice on Thursday dislodged fragments from its famous belltower, according to the AGI new agency.

The city of Milan meanwhile ordered public parks to be closed on Friday and urged residents to avoid leaving their cars under trees.

Photos and videos shared on social media on showed the damage caused to homes and businesses in the Liguria region after severe storms hit the north-western coast of Italy overnight.

Winds of up to 120km/h hit the coast, while heavy rain reportedly caused damage to power lines and the Genoa-La Spezia railway.

The mayor of Sestri Levante, on Liguria’s coast, said homes, businesses and beach facilities had been “heavily hit” and the local authority had “requested a ‘state of calamity’ given the extraordinary extent of the damage.”

Hailstones of up to 4-5 centimetres in diameter were reported in the Ligurian provinces of Chiavari and Sestri Levante.

In Boara, near Ferrara (Emilia-Romagna), a whirlwind (tromba d’aria in Italian) caused the collapse of a construction crane.

No one was reported injured in the incident, though the crane caused serious damage to three houses located in the area.

READ ALSO: Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

The extreme weather was being caused by masses of low-pressure air moving south, according to reports.

According to the latest forecasts, extreme weather will continue to affect the north of the country until at least Friday, when the low-pressure area currently wreaking havoc across the northern regions might finally ease off.

The Italian Civil Protection department issued an amber alert for Lombardy and Veneto for Friday, August 19th, whereas a lower-level yellow alert will be in place for all the other regions in the north of the country.

Experts say climate change driven by human activity is boosting the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and wildfires.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Italian climate activists throw flour over Andy Warhol car

Italian environmental group Ultima Generazione on Friday poured flour over a sports car painted by Andy Warhol on display in Milan, in the latest of a wave of protests demanding action on climate change.

Italian climate activists throw flour over Andy Warhol car

Protesters entered the Fabbrica del Vapore exhibition space in Milan at around 11am on Friday morning and threw eight kilos of flour over a BMW sports car painted by the late Andy Warhol back in 1979. 

Two members of the environmental group Ultima Generazione (‘Last Generation’) then proceeded to glue their hands to the car’s windows. 

At the time of writing it wasn’t clear whether the artwork, valued at 10 million euros, had suffered any significant damage.

“They told us beauty will save the world, but that’s bullshit,” Ultima Generazione sad in a statement released immediately afterwards.

“Only immediate and radical actions to tackle the effects of the current climate crisis will change the world as we know it.”

Activists from Italy’s Ultima Generazione after their latest protest in Milan on Friday, November 18th. Photo: Ultima Generazione.

In the same statement, the group referred to the Italian government’s handling of the environmental crisis as “criminal”, accusing people in power of “endangering people’s lives”.

Friday’s episode was only the latest in a series of demonstrations seeking to jolt public opinion over the consequences of climate change and the need to make the switch to renewable energy sources.

READ ALSO: Climate activists hurl pea soup at Van Gogh painting in Rome

Only two weeks ago, on November 4th, protesters from the same group hurled pea soup at a Van Gogh painting in Rome – an action which Italy’s new culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, later condemned as “ignoble”. 

Ultima Generazione began in 2021 as a “campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience” aimed at uniting Italian activists concerned about climate change and the future of the planet.

The group has two main demands. Firstly, they ask that the reopening of old coal power plants be paused immediately and that all scheduled fracking operations be cancelled. 

Secondly, they want an increase in the use of solar energy and wind power equivalent to at least 20 gigawatts. 

Ultima Generazione is part of a EU-wide network of climate activists who have been recently targeting world-famous artworks, including Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” in The Hague, Netherlands and Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” in Vienna.