Italy heatwave hits record 48.8 degrees in Sicily

Italy faces its 'hottest week of the summer'.

Italy recorded temperatures of 48.8 degrees Celsius in Sicily on Wednesday afternoon in what Italian media say is the hottest ever registered in Europe.

The sweltering temperature was registered in Floridia in the province of Siracusa, in the south-east of the island, beating Italy's previous all-time record of 48.5 degrees in Catenanuova, also in Sicily, in 1999.

The news comes mid-way through what forecasters warned would be the 'hottest week of the summer' as Italy faces the extreme heat brought by the 'Lucifer' anticyclone, a wave of hot air sweeping the country.

The health ministry has issued its highest 'Level 3' heat warning for eight cities on 11 August: Bari, Campobasso, Frosinone, Latina, Palermo, Perugia, Rieti and Rome.

Earlier this week 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.