Rome

Italy's scorching weather too hot for man or beast or wine

13 cities raise 'red flag' heat alerts

Italy's scorching weather too hot for man or beast or wine

(ANSA) - Rome, August 8 - The heat wave scorching much of Italy has made conditions unbearable for man and for beasts. Rome's famous horse-drawn carriages are on a forced vacation from the unusually high temperatures, after one animal collapsed in the extreme heat that has last far longer than normal. Now, carriage drivers are complaining that, what with the "skyrocketing" price of hay and this emergency measure, they are having trouble making ends meet. "We ask the City Rome in September to open discussions on the preservation of the carriages and drivers, which are a tradition," Rome's association of coachmen said Wednesday. Meanwhile, 13 Italian cities, including Bologna and Viterbo, on Wednesday issued "red flags" warning of extreme heat that poses health risks. Thanks to the Saharan weather system dubbed Nero, waves of heat continue to flow across Italy, according to Antonio Sano', director of the weather website 'ilmeteo.it'. That will bring record-high temperatures of 43 degrees Celsius to Sicily, and as hot in Puglia and Calabria; 39 degrees on Sardinia; 37 degrees in Florence and Rome. Some relief may be in sight by the weekend, with fresher air blowing in, added Sano'. That would be welcome news for horses, citizens and wine-producers, who say the 2012 vintage is threatened by the extreme heat and drought in some parts of the country. "It all depends on the amount of rain we have until the end of August," said the Italian Farmers' Confederation Coldiretti. At the very least, production losses could reach 10% this year, the group added. Drought has meant grape clusters are not developing, which will affect yields, especially in Puglia, Tuscany, and in Veneto, it said.

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