Curious indeed. When it's reported that electricity was shut-off, I wonder just how much of the network in the town was de-energized. Maybe a fault on a still energized section is causing high ground currents, or something like that?
I've never visited Italy, so I can't comment on first-hand observations, but from what I've heard Italian wiring is not exactly up to American standards.
It kind of makes me wonder if there isn't an unseen Natural gas leak underground, that could be slowly seeping up through the soil. And this could in turn be ignited by poor electrical connections and other sources of heat. Just a ball-park idea.
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green