The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - July 22

Authorities are taking action to help tourists survive the heat wave Italy is simmering under at the moment. The Rome Civil Protection Department has started handing out bottles of water to tourists queuing outside the city's museums to stop them taking ill because of dehydration. The department's volunteers are focusing much of their attention on the queues outside the Vatican Museum, where tourists often have long waits in fierce heat.

Temperatures in Florence reached 39 degrees on Friday. They are forecast to break the 40-degree mark in parts of the country at the weekend before relenting on Monday. The Health Ministry has set up a special phoneline - 1500 - which the public can call to request help or get information about how to combat the heat.

The ministry is particularly concerned about elderly city-dwellers, especially those who are socially isolated and have health or economic problems. Several Italian regions have put the emergency services on maximum "heat alert". Over 250 calls for ambulances were made in Florence alone on Friday by people who had taken a bad turn because of the weather.

The Health Ministry is advising elderly Italians to drink lots of water, eat light food, avoid going out in the hottest hours of the day and seek medical advice at the first sign of trouble. Parents are also being urged to be watchful with small children.