Rare snowfall blankets Rome, closing schools

Rare snowfall blankets Rome, closing schools

Romans woke up to a rare snowfall Monday, after an Arctic storm passing over much of Europe dumped enough snow to force schools to close and public transport to reduce services.

Italy’s civil protection agency decided to deploy the army to clear streets in the capital after the snowfall paralyzed Rome with just a few centimeters (inches) of snow.

Parks that usually stay green through winter were blanketed with snow, giving eager Romans a rare opportunity to go sledding. 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 even through the coldest months of the year. As a result, the Monday morning snowfall, though not huge in quantity, brought excited young Romans out to play in the snow or walk in the slush.

Mayor Virginia Raggi signed an ordinance Sunday evening closing public schools as a precaution, and many private ones followed suit.