Rare Event – Snow in Rome! True Story

rome snow colosseum

When I moved to Rome, people asked, “Why Rome?” My answer was simple – I could get a long term stay Visa to Italy AND I quote myself, “It doesn’t snow in Rome.”  Since after 16 years of sunshine and no cold winters while living in San Diego, CA , I wanted to ease into my new environment (and culture shock) where I didn’t need to worry about snow!

Ha ha ha! As it turned out, the joke was on me!


Happy girl making a snow/slush ball

My second winter in Rome (2012) I had the opportunity to experience something that many people never will – to see the ancient streets, monuments and parks of Rome snow-covered!  As much as I disliked cold weather and snow at this point, I admit it was magical!  I feel fortunate to have experienced this fluke of nature and to have seen Rome in this unique way.

I remember clearly, it was a Friday when it started raining slush.  I had an errand to take care of before the weekend hit, so I headed out in this unpleasant weather.  I walked just about everywhere while living in Rome and this day was no different, I had about 2km to go each way.  What I noticed was, as more of this slush, wet snow came from the sky, the more the people came to life and this added some uncommon playfulness to the norm of stoic routine.  Children were trying to scoop up what they could to make a snowball.  I wondered how many of these children were experiencing this phenomena for the first time.

I finished up my errand, and after a long, wet walk with a stop at the market, I headed back to my apartment for warmth.  I didn’t think much would come of this weather since ‘It doesn’t snow in Rome‘, and I shut my window blinds to try to get warm for the evening.

Then… the next morning, Saturday, February 4th, I wake up, open my blinds and I see a winter wonderland!

Wow!  I didn’t expect the snow to last or stick, but it did.  There must have been close to 6 inches!  That may not seem like a lot to you folks who have ‘real’ winters, but having 6 inches overnight, in a Mediterranean country where it hasn’t snowed for 25 years, it’s a lot.

Palm Trees with snow

This is Rome – Palm Trees with snow, uncommon for sure!

The normally noisy, car ridden street below was quiet, peaceful and all white. Besides the beauty of the snow, I was thrilled not to hear the screeching scooters and cars zip by.   I quickly threw on sweat pants, boots, a coat and grabbed my camera!  I wanted some photos before too many people started getting out and about.

Realizing how magnificent and rare it is to have snow in Rome, I quickly ran back to my apartment, bundled up, grabbed my extra camera battery and put on the only boots I had so that I could go explore the city covered in snow.  (psychedelic colored rain boots, California style of course!)

Note: No one has snow shovels or salt for the sidewalks – why would they? “It doesn’t snow in Rome.” I knew it would be a slippery walk ahead of me but I departed on my journey with a huge sense of giddiness!


Map of my walk around snowy Rome (click to Enlarge)










It turned out I had walked 11 km through a snow covered Rome.  It was a leisurely 7 hour walk as I enjoyed seeing the ‘new’ Roman sites, stopping for lunch and simply, taking it all in. Along the way I saw so many people smiling, laughing, building snowmen and even a man on cross-country skis.  I got to see the Colosseum, Forum, Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps with snow.  It was invigorating to view this city under a new light!

Besides getting to witness this magnificent ancient city covered in snow, seeing Villa Borghese park snow-covered was beautiful & uplifting. People were sledding, building more snowmen and you could see such joy in the eyes of everyone experiencing this unexpected winter wonderland. Everyone did have to be very careful though, branches were falling everywhere from the sudden cold and weight of the snow.

ODD FACT:  The city of Rome ran out of plaster a week after the snow.  Why?  So many people slipped, fell and injured their arms, wrists and legs since no one shoveled or salted the sidewalks.  It was pretty darn slippery in the neighborhoods for a good week until it warmed up.

Chances of you being able to experience Rome with snow is unlikely, so take a look.
And remember – Never say, Never!

It DOES snow in Rome:)

I hope you enjoy the video and photos !

Virtual Walk around A Snow Covered Rome



Watch the video/a photo animation and enjoy the gentle music to add to the virtual experience of Rome with snow.  You’ll get to see the build up of events – from Friday’s slushy rain to waking up on Saturday morning and seeing everything snow covered. 

Come take a walk with me 🙂



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