By Khaleda Rahman For Mailonline
26 February 2018
Residents of Rome woke to a rare sight on Monday after an Arctic storm hit the Italian capital overnight
Italy’s Mediterranean climate and proximity to the sea usually results in mild winters for the capital
Therefore, Monday’s snowfall – though not huge – brought excited Romans out for a rare snowball fight
Italy’s civil protection agency decided to send in the army to clear the snow-clogged streets in the city
A rare snow storm in Rome on Monday disrupted transport, shut down schools and prompted authorities to call in the army to help clear the streets.
Residents woke to the city’s first snowfall in six years on Monday as chilling winds from Siberia swept across Europe, bringing freezing temperatures that have claimed at least four lives.
The Italian capital’s first snowfall since February 2012 saw about three to four centimetres settling on the ground on Sunday.
Schools were closed in the city on Monday as local authorities opened several train stations as emergency shelters for the homeless.
It was zero degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) in Rome on Monday morning, with a low of minus six Celsius forecast until Wednesday – but no more snow is forecast.
The ‘Beast from the East’, as the phenomenon has been dubbed, is expected to bring cold air from Russia over the next few days that will make it feel even chillier than thermometers indicate.
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.
Therefore, Monday morning’s snowfall – though not huge in quantity – brought excited young Romans out for a rare snowball fight or walk in the slush.
The city, which is not equipped to deal with snow emergencies due to their rarity, asked other areas to send in snow ploughs to help clear roads.
Then, Italy’s civil protection agency decided to send in the army to clear snow-clogged streets in Rome after the Arctic storm paralysed the capital with just a few inches of snow.
RAI state radio also announced that the civil protection agency was rounding up its volunteer corps on Monday to help commuters stranded at railway stations.
Schools were ordered closed in the Italian capital, where many people could not reach their places of work. Police asked residents to stay at home if possible.
Italians ventured outside to play in the few inches of snow that settled outside the Colosseum in Rome overnight
Piazza del Popolo (The People’s Square) in Rome is seen covered in snow after much of Europe was hit by bitterly cold weather
Mayor Virginia Raggi had signed an ordinance on Sunday evening closing public schools as a precaution, and many private ones followed suit.
Only one runway was operating at Rome’s main airport, Fiumicino. The Italian capital’s second airport, Ciampino, was closed overnight and workers were clearing a runway to allow it to reopen on Monday morning.
Italian aviation officials said Ryanair, which uses Ciampino as it Italian hub, had decided to cancel all flights to and from the airport. But they said most of Italy’s other main airports were open despite delays to some flights.
Piazza Venezia, Rome’s central square which is usually a cacophony of car horns and a tangle of traffic, was eerily empty, quiet and white as dawn broke.
Parks which usually stay green throughout the winter were blanketed with snow, giving eager sledgers rare snow runs
Even the Circo Massimo became a hotspot for snowball fights, attracting adults and children who sledded down slopes
Parks which usually stay green throughout the winter were blanketed with snow, giving eager sledgers rare snow runs.
In St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, priests and seminarians threw snowballs at each other.
Even the Circo Massimo became a hotspot for snowball fights, while the Piazza Navona, with its famed Bernini fountains, turned into a snow-dusted winter wonderland.
Elsewhere in much of northern and central Italy, the storm also closed schools and disrupted transport.
The Colosseum is seen covered by snow as extreme cold weather is forecast to hit many parts of Europe with temperatures plummeting to a possible ten-year low
A resident traced the word ‘Roma’ in the heavy snow in front of the Altare della Patria in the city on Monday morning