Heavy flooding in Prato, Tuscany claimed three lives after 30 cm of rain fell in two hours causing widespread havoc.
Three Chinese women, believed to be immigrant workers, were found after their car was swept into a flooded underpass.
Prato is the seat of Italy’s garment industry and home to a huge community of Chinese workers.
The rains which battered the area on Monday and Tuesday flooded streets and felled trees and power cables.
Floods are also being reported in the Liguria region where many rivers have burst their banks.
Genoa has been hard hit by floods the cities airport was closed for a time due to the extreme weather.
Eye witnesses spoke of the speed at which the waters rose:
“In three minutes the water arrived up to here,
we escaped up the stairs with my disabled mother.”
Downpours are expected to continue for at least the next 24 hours with forecasters predicting that the rains will ease sometime on Wednesday.