Rome blanketed by snow as Arctic storm sets European records
The Arctic storm dubbed the 'Beast from the East' saw temperatures across much of Europe fall yesterday to their lowest level this winter and even brought a rare snowstorm to Rome, paralyzing the city and giving its residents the chance to ski, sled and build snowmen in its famous parks and piazzas.
Rome's schools were ordered closed, while train, plane and bus services were crippled. Italy's civil protection agency even mobilized the army to help clear slush-covered streets as a city used to mild winters was covered by a thick blanket of snow.
"Beautiful, beautiful!" marveled Roman resident Ginevra Sciurpa, who donned a fur hat and thick scarf to brave the cold. "Even though I'm not a child anymore, the enthusiasm for the snow is still the same. It is always beautiful, and above all I didn't have to go to work."
By noon the snow had all but melted, but freezing temperatures expected overnight prompted officials to close Rome schools on Tuesday for a second day and warn of continuing traffic and train chaos due to the ice that was already forming on slick cobblestone sidewalks and streets.
Parks that usually stay green through winter were blanketed white, giving eager Romans a rare opportunity to go sledding, snow-shoeing or skiing. Even the Circo Massimo became a hotspot for snowball fights, while Piazza Navona, with its famed Bernini fountains, turned into a snow-dusted winter wonderland.
Rome's Mediterranean climate and proximity to the sea usually result in mild winters, such that restaurants often keep outdoor seating open, albeit with space heaters, even through the coldest months of the year.