ROME (AFP) - Around 40 fires flared up in Italy's south Sunday, forcing firemen backed by aircraft to deploy to protect woodland and national parks, Italy's civil protection service said.

The worst zone was along the Amalfi coast, a string of cliffs and beaches prized by holidaymakers at this time of year, and on the island of Ischia, where several planes and helicopters were being used.

The civil protection service said high winds were fanning the flames and making aerial operations difficult. Aircraft were also sent to the Rome area, to Sardinia, to Puglia, and to Calabria.

Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio said his office would back park officials who wanted to start lawsuits against suspected arsonists behind most of the fires.

In Greece, where forest fires have also been raging, the village of Santa on the island of Corfu was evacuated as a precaution as flames advanced on it.

Some 40 firemen were fighting the fire with the support of eight aircraft.