Rome’s homeless struggle to stay cool as heatwave grips Italy

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Tourists rest in the shade near the statue of the Tiber River at Rome’s Campidoglio Capitol Hill Square. (AP pic)

ROME: Soaring temperatures across Italy are taking a heavy toll on the homeless as they struggle to stay cool on the streets during the heatwave.

In Rome, a middle-aged homeless man called Antonio who sleeps near the city’s Trevi Fountain collapsed earlier this week, exhausted by days of relentless heat.

“I fainted and woke up in an ambulance,” he said, sitting on a stool on the sidewalk as Red Cross volunteers handed him bottles of cold water during an operation to help the city’s homeless as the heatwave continues.

Finding shade and keeping water cold is one of the biggest problems, said Francesco, another homeless man, explaining how he wrapped his water bottle in plastic bags to keep it cooler for longer.

The heatwave, which saw the Italian capital register a record-high temperature of 41.8°C on Tuesday, has brought other problems for people sleeping rough or scraping a living by busking or begging.

“Lately, the streets have been quite deserted due to the hot days, and I haven’t been able to make much money as a street musician,” said Wlad, a Russian with a pet white rabbit on his shoulder, as he took a break from playing his guitar in Rome’s Via del Corso street.

Forecasters say the sweltering conditions should ease in the coming days.

Other southern European countries like Greece and Spain have also been grappling with extreme heat this month.

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