Snow in Rome! A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in the Eternal City…
As part of a quick four-night jaunt in February 2018, who would have thought that I would get the unlikely chance of seeing this gorgeous city, which was founded in 753 BC, under snow?
A little snow background
For those of you that are not aware, apparently it is ‘rare’ for it to snow in Rome.
Whilst visiting, some locals advise that it has been 6, 8, or 10 years, even decades since it snowed in Rome.
I’m not a hundred percent sure which tale is correct. However, I do know that during visits to Rome over many years, I have never witnessed snow here and so very lucky to have experienced this unusual phenomenon.
Snow transforms Rome markedly, as you just cannot imagine all the gorgeous postcard scenes covered in snow.
I checked with a good friend who works for the Meteo Calabria and advised that the last snowfall was in February 2012, so I guess this must be correct, right? The 2012 date followed a distant memory of snow in Rome, some 30 years previous. Today, everyone is treated to a rare sight indeed.
So what caused the unusual dusting (or deluge) of snow in Rome overnight?
Well, a weather front with cold winds from Siberia, which swept across Europe and nicknamed the ‘Beast from the East’ – of course!
Also, Italy has experienced one of the coldest February in years. According to the UK Met Office, temperatures plummeted to ‘minus 4 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) and minus 8 degrees Celsius (17 degrees Fahrenheit)’.
Regardless of which part of the world I’m visiting, chilly weather seems to follow me everywhere, and now, even in Rome.
Too late for the snow?
Organising a short meeting at the Australian Embassy for 11 am today – the main reason for visiting Rome but also for the Pink Floyd Exhibition – by the time the meeting finished, a lot of the snow already melted into Rome’s ancient drains…trickling slowly over cobbled lanes.
I’m sure that a relentless photographer would have been at famous sites taking shots from dawn’s outset, but I’m not into freezing my butt off unless absolutely necessary – slack I hear you say?
Nonetheless, this isn’t stopping me from racing around like a mad woman to several of Rome’s main tourist areas to take photos of the fast-diminishing snow, which still drapes ancient sites.
Does snow keep tourists and locals away?
Stupidly thinking that many people would stay at home today because of the extreme weather, I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
Apart from the Metro running, public transport is closed today as are schools, and so, many people could not make it to work.
The interesting thing is that it appears that all of Rome seems to be at the tourist sites today, as everywhere is crammed with locals sight-seeing as well as tourists.
I read and also heard that the mayor of Rome enlisted the army’s assistance to mainly help spread salt across footpaths and roads, and also shovel slush from the city’s streets.
I don’t see the army anywhere and this is after walking over eighteen kilometres all over this alluring city today.
The only place I did see a couple of army personnel shovelling snow was in front of a few Embassies and mainly under their Gazebo where they guard an Embassy. Unlike me, perhaps the army started in the early hours of the morning when I was still wrapped up snugly in warm blankets, in a cosy apartment.
Still, walking amongst a bed of snow in this city is quite a special sight.
The obligatory snowmen – albeit a little unusual with an adaptation of fresh vegetables and palm fronds – locals throwing snowballs at each other, and some streets thick under snow, are not an uncommon sight today.
Everyone enjoys this fleeting moment before its traces vanish away.
Sights under snow
By the time I arrive at many of the sites, only a light blanket or sporadic patches of snow still grace ancient monuments, piazzas, famous fountains, and shaded cobbled alleyways – still rendering a magical and enchanting painting for any visitor.
To say that Rome under snow is surreal is an understatement.
I only hope that my photos can provide you with some idea of how simply even more beautiful Rome is when wrapped in this canvas of white overlay…
…and, although you may not have experienced snow in Rome, I can show you a slim porthole on what to expect if visiting Rome during the unlikely event of snow.
I particularly like the way that snow always tends to transform even the most memorable of sites especially statues – reminds me a little of when pigeons or seagulls sit on the heads of statues.
By the time we arrive at Piazza del Popolo, sadly only a veil of snow remains on the domes of the “twin” churches – Santa Maria in Montesanto (built from 1662-75) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli (built from 1675-79).
Standing in the centre of the piazza, the Egyptian obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis, is free of all snow traces.
A short video of Piazza del Popolo. Bear with me as I’m still learning how to take videos – this one is with my small compact camera.
Pink Floyd Exhibition – Their Mortal Remains
Another reason for the quick jaunt in Rome is to see the incredible Pink Floyd Exhibition (€20) at the Macro Museo.
Don’t miss this fabulous event, which is travelling the globe. The exhibition will blow your mind as it takes you on a historical walk through the last 50 years of Pink Floyd’s amazing life.
Spending around three hours at this excellent exhibition today, I noticed that many people of all ages are here, which goes to show that this timeless band is still very popular. And, that Floyd’s music touched and still touches many people, regardless of time – a true sign of musical genius.
Once you exit, you can’t re-enter the exhibition, even if you’re only taking a coffee break outside, so make sure you’ve seen everything before resting your legs for a break.
For good coffee (€1+) and snacks (€2.50+), venture to the museum’s lovely bright and airy cafe graced with high windowed walls, and adorned with modern artwork.
Pink Floyd’s fleeting moment in time official video to give you a taste…
Although this city was covered in snow when locals awoke on the morning of the 26th, when leaving on the 27th, sporadic snowy remains still existed along the pavements and on a few streets. In scattered areas, just enough for the unwary walker to slip on, which I nearly did, a couple of times.
Rome Termini train station still shows signs of snow on the train tracks and although lovely to see, it is very cold still. But for now, it’s time to take a train and head back down south to Cosenza.
Doubt if I will ever see Rome under snow again, and extremely appreciative that I saw a little of this stunning white wonderland gracing the city and managed some photos for you.
Let me know if you were in Rome today and experienced this unlikely occurrence. I would love to hear your comments or read your blog.