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Olive oil, risotto rice and pasta at risk as northern Italy suffers worst drought in 70 years

Ancient Roman ruins found in the Tiber River are about 2,000 years old, and are usually covered with water. But recently, they can be seen with the naked eye because a heatwave Which is scorching Italy—what experts are calling Italy’s worst drought in seven decades.

Tom Rankin, professor of urban planning at La Sapienza in Rome, shows Chris Livesey of CBS News where the waters of the Tiber River should be.

“The water is usually up to our waist or shoulder height at this point and now I would say it has gone beyond a wakeup call,” he said.

Italy drought
Boats dock at a tourist port along the Po River in Torricella, northern Italy. Italy’s drought has threatened about 3 billion euros ($3.1 billion) of agriculture in rivers important for irrigation, according to Italian farm lobby Coldiretti.

Antonio Kalani / AP


Heat and drought have left rice fields to a bone-dry risotto. The Po River Valley, which produces 40% of Italy’s food such as pasta and wine, is in a government emergency.

Italy drought
Tally’s Confederation of Agriculture Producers, Kopagari, estimates that there is a loss of 30%-40% of the seasonal crop.

Antonio Kalani / AP


Olive orchards such as Olio Petrucci are struggling to meet demand as half of their olive groves have dried up. Sabrina Petrucci said this is increasing the final cost of the oil sold in the orchard. She said that Olio Petrucci, who has been around since the 1600s, could collapse if things don’t get better.

“We have to rethink our business, even if it’s a forever family business,” she said.

Italy drought
An automatic sprinkler connected to a dewatering pump moistens a corn field at Zello Sarrigone, about 30 kilometers south of Milan in northern Italy.

Luca Bruno / AP


Some towns have implemented water rationing procedures. Rome is considering shutting down all public water fountain systems if the drought worsens.

Scientists are blaming global warming for the lack of rain in the region. drought is believed to have been behind a The Italian Alps collapsed in July, killing 11 people when part of a glacier melted due to record high temperatures.

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