Roads to the Alpine resorts of Cervinia and Cogne in Valle d’Aosta reopened on Wednesday, freeing thousands of tourists trapped by the snow.

The avalanche alert in Cervinia has been lowered to four out of five, meaning that the risk remains high but not critical.

The danger will lessen as snowfall eases and unusually warm temperatures drop, helping to stabilise thick, wet snow.

Roads to the towns of Valnontey, Gaby, Gressoney-Saint-Jean and Gressoney-La-Trinité were also expected to reopen.

The river Po rose four metres in 36 hours between Monday and Wednesday due to heavy snowfall, torrential rain and hail, according to data collected by Italian farmers’ association Coldiretti from Ponte della Becca near Pavia.

Meanwhile, southern Italy is in the grip of a winter heatwave, with temperatures reaching 24˚C in Sicily and 19˚C in Rome this week. 

According to meteorologists, the temperature in Rome stayed above 15˚C overnight – a record not seen in nearly 100 years.