Italian agriculture severely impacted as floods ravage Emilia-Romagna

italy flood may 2023

From May 16 to 20, 2023, severe floods and over 300 landslides triggered by heavy rainfall in the Emilia-Romagna Region of Northern Italy caused 13 fatalities and significant damage, with one person still missing, 36 000 people evacuated, and approximately 1 million affected. This extreme rainfall event caused extensive damage to farms and rural infrastructure.

The Emilia-Romagna Region of Northern Italy was severely impacted by heavy rainfall from May 16 to 20, 2023, resulting in devastating floods, river overflows, and numerous landslides. This disaster has resulted in 13 confirmed fatalities and one person missing, primarily in the provinces of Forlì-Cesena and Ravenna, according to the Italian Civil Protection and media reports. An additional 36 000 people have been evacuated, and over 500 roads in the region have been closed, largely due to landslides.

In response to the flood, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) was swiftly activated, and eight maps of the affected area have been produced thus far.

Over 3 000 buildings in and around Ravenna have been hit by the devastating floods, according to data collected by the Rapid Mapping Team of Copernicus Emergency Management

On May 20, Italy requested assistance from the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM) for high-capacity pumping modules with equipment, with nine countries offering assistance.

The red alert for hydraulic and hydrogeological risk over eastern Emilia Romagna issued by the Italian Civil Protection remains in effect.

The flood has caused extensive damage to vast areas in the provinces of Forlì-Cesena, Ravenna, and Bologna. “There’s enormous damage to farms and rural infrastructure in Romagna and The Marches. Thousands of hectares of kiwis, plums, pears, and apples, plots of vegetables, fields of grain, nurseries, farm buildings, machinery, and other infrastructure flooded,” says Ettore Prandini, president of the agriculture organization Coldiretti.

In light of the severe flooding, a summit meeting was held between ministers Carlo Nordio (Justice), Francesco Lollobrigida (Agriculture), Marina Calderone (Labor and Social Policies), and the state secretaries Bignami and Leo. The primary discussion revolved around suspending tax and social security obligations for companies in the affected areas.

Paolo Bruni, president of the Italian horticultural companies service organization, CSO Italy, expressed concerns about the emerging situation, comparing the damage to the effects of an earthquake. He emphasized the need for proactive measures such as hydraulic works to manage future flooding events.


On May 23, ANSA reported a total of 105 schools in Emilia-Romagna have been affected. The regional government said 49 schools had various problems getting back to teaching, 58 had transport-related issues and 44 were being used as temporary dormitories for people evacuated from their homes because of the disaster.

Around 150 000 students are affected by the flood emergency, it said. 


1 Italy – Severe weather, floods and landslides, update (Italian Civil Protection, MeteoAM, Copernicus EMSR, ANSA) – May 22, 2023

2 Italy: floods claim lives and cause enormous damage to farms – Fresh Plaza – May 19, 2023

Featured image credit: Vigili del Fuoco (stillshot)


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