Italy faced record high temperatures today, with the thermometer hitting 40 degrees Celsius in many parts of the country.

An African heat wave is sweeping across the country, forcing authorities to issue risk warnings for 26 cities. A "red alarm", indicating the highest level of risk from the heat, has been issued for cities including top tourist destinations Florence, Rome, Venice and Verona.

In the capital, tourists taking in the Eternal City's sights under the scorching sun could be seen making good use of Rome's many water fountains, re-filling their bottles and pouring water over their heads.

Meteorologists forecast temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius for Rome and several parts of Italy until Monday.

In the south and Sardinia temperatures are expected to reach highs of 42 degrees Celsius.

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