Snow in Rome – a once in a lifetime opportunity in the Eternal City?
As part of a quick four-night jaunt, 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, locals advised that it has been 6, 8, or 10 years, even decades since it snowed in Rome. I’m not one-hundred percent sure which tale is correct. Although, all I know is that over many visits to Rome, I have never witnessed snow here and I am so very lucky to experience this unusual phenomenon.
I checked with a good friend that works for the Meteo Calabria whom advised that the last snowfall was in February 2012, so I guess this must be correct, right? This date of 2012 followed a distant memory of snow in Rome of some 30 years’ previous – 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.
Having organised a short meeting at the Australian Embassy for 11 am today (the main reason for visiting Rome), by the time this finished, a lot of the snow had melted into Rome’s ancient drains, or trickled slowly over cobbled lanes.
A relentless photographer would have been at famous sites taking shots from dawn’s outset, I am sure. But…I’m not into freezing my butt off, unless absolutely necessary – slack, I hear you say.
Nonetheless, this didn’t stop me racing around like a mad woman to several of the main tourist areas to see if I could take some photos of the fast diminishing snow, which still draped ancient sites.
Stupidly thinking that many people would have stayed at home today because of the extreme weather, I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
Oh, how wrong I was…
Apart from the Metro running, schools and public transport are closed today, and so, apparently many people could not make it into work. Though the interesting thing is that it appeared that all of Rome seemed to be at the tourist sites today, as everywhere was crammed with Romans sight-seeing.
I read and also heard that the mayor of Rome enlisted the army’s assistance today. This is mainly to help spread salt but also to shovel slush from the city’s streets, which saw some owners abandoning their cars.
I have to comment here that I did not see this anywhere and this is after walking over eighteen kilometres all over this alluring city today. Although, 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 were standing guard for 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 and 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 streets thick under snow, are not an uncommon sight here today.
Everyone is enjoying this fleeting moment, before its traces vanish away…
Sights under snow
By the time I got to many of the sites, only a light blanket or sporadic patches of snow still graced 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 narrow porthole on what can be expected, if visiting Rome during the unlikely event of snow.
I particularly like the way that snow always tends to change even the most memorable of sites and especially, statues. Reminds me a little of when a pigeon or seagull sits on a statue’s head…you know what I mean.
By the time I visited Piazza del Popolo, sadly, only a splattering of snow remained on the domes of the “twin” churches: Santa Maria in Montesanto (built, 1662-75) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli (built, 1675-79).
Standing in the centre of the Piazza, the Egyptian obelisk of Ramesses II from Heliopolis, is free of all traces of snow. A short video of Piazza del Popolo. Bare with me as I’m still learning how to take videos and this one is with my small compact camera.
Although this city was covered in snow when locals awoke on the morning of the 26th, when leaving on the 27th, sporadic remains still existed along the pavements and some 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 showed signs of snow on the train tracks and although lovely to see, very cold, of course.
I am not sure if I will ever see Rome under snow again. I am extremely appreciative that I saw a little of this stunning white wonderland gracing the city, and could manage some photos for you.
Let me know if you were in Rome today and experienced this unlikely occurrence. I would love to hear your comment or read your blog.