Italy enters 'hottest week of summer' amid extra risk of wildfires

Italy braced for 'Lucifer' heatwave amid increased risk of wildfires in the week leading up to the Ferragosto summer holiday.

Italy is set to experience soaring temperatures in the coming days with the arrival of the 'Lucifer' anticyclone from Africa, in what weather forecasters warn will be the hottest week of the summer.

The health ministry has issued a 'Level 3' heat warning for four cities on 10 August - Bari, Campobasso, Rieti and Rome - and eight cities on 11 August - Bari, Campobasso, Frosinone, Latina, Palermo, Perugia, Rieti and Rome.

Forecasters have described the incoming wave of hot air as an "extreme event with few precedents", with temperatures set to reach in excess of 45 degrees Celsius in some parts of the south later this week.

The incoming heatwave has led Italy's civil protection agency to warn of increased risks of wildfires across the country, with several regions already battling devastating blazes in recent weeks, notably Abruzzo, Sardinia and Sicily.

Civil protection chief Fabrizio Curcio has appealed for the "utmost cooperation and caution" from citizens, telling news agency ANSA: "It is fundamental to avoid any behaviour that could generate fires and to promptly report even small fires."

Farming association Coldiretti has warned that the heatwave could destroy crops of fruit and vegetables as well as causing damage to the olive harvest and leading to loss of milk production in cows under pressure from the heat.

The health ministry recommends avoiding exposure to the sun and outdoor activity in the middle of the day, advising people to drink plenty of water, eat lightly, and to walk their dogs early in the morning and late in the evening.

Photo credit: Vereshchagin Dmitry / Shutterstock.com.