Flood waters hit most of the tourist destination of Venice and lead to the evacuation of 200 people in Tuscany, as bad weather hits northern Italy at the weekend, authorities confirm.

Heavy rains trigger 'acqua alta'- high water (pic: Reuters)

In Venice itself, heavy rains and winds from the south triggered "acqua alta" (high water) and 70 per cent of the city was flooded, with sea levels reaching a peak five feet above normal before receding slightly, they said.

In Tuscany, around 200 people were evacuated because of heavy rains which flooded homes and caused mudslides, local officials said.

The most affected region was the province of Massa and Carrara, which produces the famous Carrara marble.

In Massa di Carrara alone, some 50 people were evacuated and a car was carried away by an overflowing river. The couple in the vehicle were saved by firefighters.

The authorities have urged the local population to avoid going into the streets and to stay in the the upper floors of their homes.

In Pisa, some streets have been without electricity following the floods. In the large Tuscan port of Livorno, civil defence forces were on alert because of the heavy rains.

In Liguria, the region bordering Tuscany, 30 people had to be evacuated, the authorities said.

In anticipation of the floods two days ago, the authorities issued warnings and planned security measures to avoid any casualties after 13 people died in Tuscany and Liguria a year ago.

The bad weather was heading slowly towards the centre of the country and was set to hit Rome where civil defence forces have been put on alert.

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