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Un Giornata di Neve a Roma (a SNOW day in Rome)

6 Feb

In 25 years, the city has not seen a snowfall like the one we witnessed this weekend. As someone who has grown up with long winters (and frankly thought that I had escaped from them in moving to Rome), it was a delight to see the city under a blanket of snow. There are some unbelievable photos here:

It all started when, faced with a possible sprinkling of a couple centimeters of snow on Friday, Rome announced school cancellations Thursday night. Pleeeez. But sure enough, all day Friday there was a constant barrage of flakes, growing fatter and fluffier as the day progressed. By evening, flakes were starting to accumulate on the ground, and traffic ground to a complete halt.

Expecting this to be a passing weather phenomena, I was somewhat shocked to wake up Saturday AM to a world completely covered with white. It was not just a transformed landscape – with covered palm trees and Vespas looking uncomfortably out of place – the notorious drivers of Rome were also transformed. Normally reckless to the point of daredevils, Romans stayed off the roads almost entirely, and many the brave that ventured out Saturday morning wore chains on their tires – including the city buses!

But the lack of vehicles surprisingly did not confine Italians to their homes – somewhat to my surprise all over the city Romans were walking in droves, (and hopefully giving a thought to how painfully inadequate and poorly maintained/non-existent sidewalks are in the city).

(Even today, 2 days later, driving to the airport we passed 50-100 cars that had been abandoned by the side of the road…and I’ve just learned that Monday will be a day off for everyone with all public services shut down!)

Back to Saturday AM. The beautiful silence in the streets created by a lack of traffic was balanced by the liveliness of every available green space. One of the things I love about Italians is their playfulness. And the snow brought everyone out – I’ve never in my life seen so many snowball fights and snowmen, snowwomen, and snow priests. We even saw 2 snow cazzi complete with due coglone (no picture available).

Saturday afternoon the sun came out and the city was dazzled once again by the combination of blue skies and winter wonderland. Somehow, with no one driving in the streets, everyone magically seemed to have descended on Centro; shopping, strolling and having a grand adventure. Italians of course responded to the unusual weather with their usual flair for appropriate dress:

You can't really see them but we've got a pair of 4 inch stilettos here.

Many, many full-on snow suits

Not sure what's going on here but it looks warm!

It looked like one of the casualties of the day were the trees (I won’t discuss my experience at the airport today when only 20% of staff showed up, although curiously all the passengers managed to be there). Looks like Roman trees are just not used to the weight of snow and many trees lost major branches, I was shocked at how much of the city was littered with these.

Branches everywhere

In the end it was a blast, and it was funny for me to see Italians on every block making snowmen, but not knowing how to do them! They would pile up a mound of snow and then shape it into a snowman shape. I guess it goes to show that the knowledge of how to build a snowman might not be innate, but the desire to do so is universal! Here is a collection of Roman snowman for your viewing pleasure. Note the pile the snow in a big cone technique! And wouldn’t you know that Italians aren’t afraid to accessorize their snowmen?!

Little Caesar

Um...hula dancing snowman?

Flying snowman