Tourism For Members

Should you reconsider travel to Italy during a heatwave?

Clare Speak
Clare Speak - [email protected]
Should you reconsider travel to Italy during a heatwave?
A tourist cools off during a heatwave in Rome on July 18th. Intense heat doesn’t seem to be deterring visitors from Italy’s cities so far - but some have said they’re reconsidering future trips. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

As international media publish hair-raising stories of “heatwave hell” for holidaymakers in Italy, people planning to visit in the coming weeks may wonder if there’s really that much cause for concern.


Some holidaymakers due to visit Italy and other parts of southern Europe this summer have said this week that they may cancel plans due to the extreme heatwave currently sweeping the continent.

One visitor already in Italy told The Guardian this week that it was "too hot to do anything" as temperatures reached 40C in many parts of the country, while a would-be visitor said she may reconsider an upcoming holiday as “I am worried about my health”.

READ ALSO: No more 'dolce vita': How extreme weather could change Italian tourism forever

In an article in The Times, titled ‘Heatwave hell: I’m scared to go on holiday to Italy’, writer Ben Rowell said extreme weather during a villa holiday in Tuscany last summer had left him feeling “nervous” about a return visit next week.

In summer 2022 - Europe's hottest on record - Rowell’s group cancelled planned visits to beaches and cities and stayed by the pool, until a storm brought down power lines in the area, leaving them without electricity.

Lowlights of Rowell’s trip included the pool turning green during the power cut, and giant hailstones damaging the bodywork of his hired Fiat.

He recounted spending large parts of the holiday reading in his room to escape the 36C heat outside.

Despite all this, he described how they made the best of their “shambles” of an Italian holiday - and in the end enjoyed it so much that they rebooked the same villa again for this summer.

Still, with temperatures currently around 40C in the area at the moment, he wrote: “I may be the first person to be nervous about revisiting Tuscany since Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View.”


Travellers like Rowell may be relieved to know that temperatures in Tuscany and surrounding regions are forecast to return to seasonal averages by early next week as the heatwave recedes - although the average in Tuscany at this time of year is still in the mid 30s.

But the current heatwave is far from a one off, and extreme weather events, including heatwaves, storms, and deadly floods like those which devastated the Emilia Romagna region earlier this year, are becoming increasingly frequent in Italy.

It is reasonable to be worried about travelling to areas frequently affected by intense heat: the Italian government has, after all, issued ‘red alert’ health warnings this week covering almost every area of the country, as authorities say these conditions pose a threat to everyone’s health.

Such heat warnings are not given without reason: Italy saw a spike in heat-related deaths in 2022, and new research this week predicted Europe will soon face "nearly 100,000 deaths a year linked to extreme heat".


So far this year, concern about the weather doesn’t seem to have put many people off visiting - Italy is seeing a post-Covid boom in international visitor numbers during the peak summer season.

But many working in the tourism industry are worried that the changing climate will put an end to Italy’s reputation for balmy summer temperatures, meaning that in future more international visitors will opt to spend their holidays - and money - elsewhere.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
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Kris 2023/07/23 07:44
We always travel to Italy in March, April and May to avoid the hot weather. Spring is a great time to be in Europe, as the weather is generally pretty good, there are less tourists which is always a bonus and prices aren't as high.

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