A Winter Wonderland

It snowed in Rome on Friday and it’s been both enchanting and hilarious to watch the Italians deal with it ever since. If we get any snow at all here, it’s normally little wet flakes that melt the instant they touch the ground. The last time there was any snow of note in Rome was 1986. The combination of the white snow and the ancient monuments is very arresting; people still speak about ’86 in hushed tones and you can still buy postcards depicting that storm.

People have been talking about snow for a week and when it finally hit, everyone – myself included – was excited. True to form it was  a wet snow and it didn’t look like it would stick, but it snowed most of the day and into the night and when I woke up Saturday morning it was to a strange, silent Rome, covered in white.

Along the Tiber. ©Jane.

The view from my window.

Piazza Navona. ©Jane.

Saint Peter's in the snow.

No one on the street; no cars, no buses. Many stores were closed. The schools were closed from Friday and won’t reopen until Tuesday. Slowly, people began to venture out and by midday the park across the street was filled with people, young and old, shrieking with delight as they threw snowballs and slid down the big hill on plastic trash bags. Municipal workers shoveled the roads in key tourist zones (there are no snow plows of course) but in the ‘burbs, where I live, people don’t have shovels (no need) so they took to raking the sidewalks. Hey, it worked. The Mayor insisted that all drivers use snow chains to get around (Snow chains? Why didn’t he tell them not to drive? Grrr).

Snowmen popped up everywhere. Funny thing: Roman snowmen are political and historical as well as just jolly figures.

A jolly (French tourist?) snowman with Saint Peter's in the background. ©Jane.

I walked by a depiction of Rome’s Mayor Gianni Alemanno (there was a small crowd in front debating whether his eyes — cranberries — shouldn’t be closer together. Hee!)

Alemanno in the snow.

and Julius Caesar. Sorry, I missed that picture.

Snowman at the corner bar.

And in front of my house.

So, as I mentioned, the park was open on Saturday, during which people sledded and skied their fool heads off. Cooler municipal heads prevailed yesterday due to fears of falling branches and icy pratfalls and the park was closed. When I got there around 10 am with the dogs, there was a long line of hopeful parents and kids with makeshift sleds, reading a sign that said “Closed until further notice.” Further notice took about as long as is required to pick the lock on the park gate. Italians, as you may have heard, don’t care much about rules, especially where fun is involved. The park was locked up tighter than a tick tonight and there were a couple of enforcers outside. So I’m forced to find alternate dog walking venues over the next few days. A pity, since Morgan has been loving skidding and sliding around in his first snowfall.

Morgan's first snowfall.

Oh, by the way. Did I neglect to mention that about 3 inches of snow fell here the other night? It’s particularly interesting since last week I was in Davos, where they managed to pull off a major international conference in a small village that was experiencing the biggest snowfall in 66 years. There were at least 2 metres on the ground in some places. Just saying.

Davos and real snow.

The roads are more or less clear now and some of the sidewalks. Things should get back to normal in the next few days. It’s still bloody cold for Rome.


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