In pictures: Rare snowfall blankets Rome as Italian army called in to clear streets

Rome ground to a halt as snow lashed the Italian capital leaving the army to clear blanketed streets.

Rare snowfall of four inches saw runways closed at Fiumicino Airport as the city was transformed into a winter wonderland.

Volunteer officers were called in to help rescue stranded commuters stuck at railway stations on Monday as excited young Romans dashed out into the streets to enjoy snowball fights and winter walks.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi ordered public schools to be closed, and many private ones followed suit.


Parks which usually stay green throughout the winter were blanketed with snow, giving eager sledgers a chance for snow runs.

Tourist hotspots including the Circo Massimo and Piazza Navona, with its famed Bernini fountains were transformed by winter flurries.

People look at the Spanish Steps during a snowfall in Rome (AP)

The city’s Mediterranean climate and proximity to the sea usually result in mild winters however a Siberian chill brought an unusual cold snap to the city.

Elsewhere in much of northern and central Italy, the storm also closed schools and disrupted transport.

Snow blankets rooftops in Rome (EPA)

Meanwhile, in Moscow, temperatures plunged to a new low despite spring approaching.

The Russian Meteorological Office said on Monday that the mercury in the capital dropped to nearly minus 20C (minus 4f) on Sunday night, the coldest night this winter.

Meteorologists are forecasting unusually low temperatures for early March. Roman Vilfand, chief of the Russian Meteorological Office, told the Interfax news agency that Muscovites should brace themselves for frosty weather in early March and could only “count on the warmth of the soul”, not higher temperatures outside.

Earlier this month, Moscow saw what has been described as the strongest snowfall on record when more than a month’s average of snow fell on the city, turning streets and yards into snowdrifts.

Additional reporting by the Press Association

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