In Sesto Calende, a small town near Lake Maggiore and the Swiss border, the central square resembled a giant pond, a handful of sandbags doing a poor job of preventing the water from soaking the ground floors of houses and businesses. "It is a nationwide problem caused by decades of neglect and poor governance," said one resident, Mauro, with a resigned shrug.
A total of 12 people have died in weather-related accidents in northern Italy since mid-October. Three deaths at the weekend included a pensioner and his granddaughter who were buried alive when a landslide hit their house on the shores of Maggiore in the early hours of Sunday morning, the third tragedy of its type in less than a week.
Claudio Burlando, the president of the Liguria region, which includes the entire Italian Riviera, said the damage incurred on his patch alone in the last month now exceeded one billion euros.
Apart from the clean-up costs, millions of euros worth of crops have been destroyed and many fields rendered unsuitable for grazing or planting, while motorways and other infrastructure, including a Genoa cemetery where zinc coffins were washed away at the weekend, will have to be repaired at public expense.
Most costly of all, the water-management systems which have proved incapable of dealing with exceptional conditions will have to be upgraded....