Italy sends in the army after Rome hit by rare snow
And in Moscow, temperatures plunged to a new low of -20C overnight despite the approaching spring.
Italy’s civil protection agency has decided to send in the army to clear snow-clogged streets in Rome after an Arctic storm paralysed the capital with just a few inches (centimetres) 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.
Rome rarely sees snow, and when it does, public transport grinds to a near-halt.
The city’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 for a rare snowball fight or walk in the slush.
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 rare snow runs.
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.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, temperatures plunged to a new low despite the approaching spring.
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.