The first tornado struck the town of Ladispoli around 6 p.m. local time, damaging dozens of buildings.
“It came in from the sea and swept through the town center,” said Crescenzo Paliotta, the mayor of Ladispoli. “There were fishing boats in the harbor that were moved over 100 meters.”
Close-up video shows trees snapping, a traffic sign flattened, and large debris flying through the streets.
On Monday, schools were closed in the town as the cleanup effort began.
The second tornado, which remained on the ground for some distance and was widely photographed, caused substantial damage around Cesano, about 18 miles north of Rome. Here a man died when a tree landed on his car.
Sunday’s meteorological conditions were ripe for violent thunderstorms in the region. A strengthening area of low pressure was moving into northern Italy, drawing moist, unstable air over the peninsula.
Changing wind direction with altitude (or wind shear) then helped rotate the very unstable air.
MeteoWeb, an Italian meteorological news site, said the twisters are likely to be classified as F2 or F3 on the 0-5 Fujita scale.
Tornadoes, while not as frequent as in the United States, are somewhat common in Italy. A 2007 study found late summer and fall produces the most tornado activity in the country.
Past tornado events in Italy