More bodies were found on Thursday after almost every river flooded between Bologna and the north-east coast 115km (70 miles) away.
Some 280 landslides have taken place.
"It was a very bad 48 hours. Water and mud took over our whole village," said Roberta Lazzarini, 71.
Her home of Botteghino di Zocca, south of Bologna, was hit by a torrent on Wednesday. Streets, houses and gardens were inundated and Roberta said she was still scared.
"I've never seen anything like that here. We were stuck and didn't know what to do. I just hope it doesn't happen again."
Firefighters helped residents flee their houses, including a 97-year-old woman who had to leave her bedroom in a rubber dinghy.
"Our community is broken," said Roberta's daughter, Ines, who runs the local cafe in the central square. "We felt completely cut out, isolated, some of us were truly terrified."
"We've had floods before, but it has never been this bad as far as I can remember," said Lamieri, 74, as he removed mud from his basement, where his son stores products to sell at the souvenir shop he runs in central Bologna.
"The street turned into river. We lost all of our stuff which was stored down here. We estimate thousands of euros in damage."
This is one of many villages and towns flooded in the province of Emilia-Romagna, not just from rivers, but overflowing canals too.
More evacuations took place west of Ravenna on Thursday and more bodies were found, including a couple in a flat in the village of Russi, which was flooded hours before.
Many are warning that Italy needs a national plan to respond to the effects of climate change.
Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci said tropical conditions had already reached Italy, with 20cm of rain falling in 36 hours, and in some areas up to 50cm.
"Soils that remain dry for a long time end up becoming cemented, drastically limiting their capacity to absorb water," he said.
No regional dams had been built for 40 years, he said, and a new approach to hydraulic engineering engineering was needed.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government has called a crisis meeting next Tuesday.
Many factors contribute to flooding, but a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely. Already, the world has warmed about 1.1C since the industrial era began, and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.
Antonio Francesco Rizzuto, a 55-year-old lawyer who lives by the river with his wife, was forced to leave on Tuesday night and is now living at his daughter's in a nearby village.
"It was something no-one was expecting in these proportions," he said. "Before we left our house, the water level was getting higher by the minute. When we got back yesterday... our living room was completely submerged. We will have to throw away most of our furniture."