The Italian Almanac


Summer at Last

Summer will make an early debut in Italy this week after a spring which never arrived and was replaced by unseasonably cool temperatures and above average rain, experts said. Current forecasts call for temperatures to rise as high as 38 degrees in central and southern Italy later in the week after which there should be a pause next week before a second heat wave hits the peninsula starting around June 20.

"A heat wave is on the way but it won't last that long. In three or four days we'll see temperatures climb to 38 decrees in the south but by mid-June they will come down again," observed Giampiero Matacchi, a professor of climatology at the University of Florence. "This stop-and-go trend has almost become the norm in recent years. As soon as an African tropical front moves in and drives temperatures up, it is pushed out by an Atlantic front which brings temperatures down".

What this means, he explained, is that Italy "will be subject to a series of intermittent heat waves. Summer will arrive but this does not mean it will no longer rain. Spring, at least in its classic sense, never arrived. In its place came the rain which in many parts of Italy was more than twice the normal amount. And this means we should not run any risk of drought this summer," Matacchi said.

Farmers, of course, have complained that the excessive rainfall and lack of sunshine have damaged their crops, with tomato plants in June at half their regular height while fruits and vegetables in general are as much as a month to a month and half behind schedule. According to the farmers union Coldiretti, citing official data, this past spring was the 29th coldest in the past 200 years, in contrast to last year which was the fourth hottest.