Are there wildfires in Italy? Locations of blazes as Sicily temperatures hit 47C - travel advice for tourists

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Wildfires in Italy have caused disruption to travel this week as temperatures climbed above 47C

Extreme heat in Italy is causing travel disruption in some parts of the country after wildfires broke out.

Italy’s southern region is facing the worst of the weather, where firefighters have been confronting blazes this week after temperatures hit the high 30Cs and mid-40Cs.

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A wind-fed brush fire burned near Palermo on the island of Sicily forcing Palermo Airport to temporarily close on Monday night (24 July) as fires burned around its perimeter. The blaze started above the town of Cinisi before spreading to the edge of the airport, which remained closed until 0900 GMT on Tuesday while fires were put out.

Wildfires in Italy have caused disruption to travel this week (Photo: Getty Images)Wildfires in Italy have caused disruption to travel this week (Photo: Getty Images)
Wildfires in Italy have caused disruption to travel this week (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

The incident came just a week after Sicily’s main airport of Catania was closed due to a fire in its Terminal A building. The damage caused by the blaze, the cause of which is still being investigated, meant urgent repair work needed to be carried out, causing disruption to flights.

Operations resumed at the airport days later, but only for domestic flights within the European Union’s Schengen Area. As such, flights regarded as domestic - with no passport control or customs post required - are able to go ahead, while flights from the UK to Catania remain grounded.

As confirmed in a Notice to Airmen, no non-Schengen flights will land at or depart from Catania airport until 26 July. Sicilian governor Renato Schifan indicated on Tuesday (25 July) that the return to full normality should take place around 4 or 5 August, at which point UK flights should resume.

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Where are wildfires in Italy?

Wildfires have broken out in Sicily after temperatures in eastern parts of the island rose to a scorching 47.6C earlier this week, almost surpassing Europe’s record of 48.8C set in August 2021. Areas including Palermo in the northwest and Catania on the east coast are among the areas affected.

The hot weather has sparked several other blazes on the Mediterranean island, including near the seaside tourist resort of Cefalu and in the Messina area of Sicily, where flames engulfed part of the village of Curcuraci. Flames also threatened the ancient archaeological site of Segesta, which was temporarily closed to check for any damage.

Elsewhere, wildfires also burned in Calabria in southwest Italy, including in the rugged Aspromonte mountains, and fires have also broken out in Puglia.

Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire in a historic house in the territory of Aci Catena, 20 km from Catania (Photo: Getty Images)Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire in a historic house in the territory of Aci Catena, 20 km from Catania (Photo: Getty Images)
Firefighters attempt to extinguish a fire in a historic house in the territory of Aci Catena, 20 km from Catania (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

On Sardinia, three flights from Milan, Paris and Amsterdam were forced to land at other airports on the Italian island because the tarmac in Olbia was deemed dangerously hot at a sizzling 47C.

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Earlier this month, 16 cities in Italy were issued with red alerts by the Italian government due to extreme heat, including Palermo, Cagliari, Rome, Florence and Bologna. It is recommended that people avoid direct sunlight between 11am and 6pm, and take particular care of the elderly and vulnerable.

As well as wildfires, Italy has also been affected by deadly storms in the north of the country. Two women were killed after being crushed by falling trees in the provinces of Monza and Brescia in separate incidents on Tuesday.

In Milan, an overnight storm tore off roofs and uprooted trees, causing disruption on the roads, while hailstorms and gale force winds up to 70mph struck Lombardy and other northern regions.

Is it safe to travel to Italy?

The UK Foreign Office is not advising against travel to Italy, but it warns that extreme temperatures are currently affecting many parts of the country. Tourists are also warned that forest fires are a risk during the summer months and they can be dangerous and unpredictable.

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The government body said: “Wildfires are currently affecting areas of Sicily, Puglia and Calabria. Check latest alerts and weather forecast and follow advice of local authorities if you’re considering travelling to affected areas.

“Take care when visiting or driving through woodland areas and report fires to the emergency services. For information on what to do in the event of a forest fire, visit the Civil Protection Department website.”

Heavy rainfall is common throughout Italy in winter, which can cause local flooding. Holidaymakers are urged to monitor local media, weather reports and follow the advice of local authorities in affected areas.

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