During the January freeze in Arcidosso, Tuscany, my brother Oscar and I kept asking members of his beloved host family, whether it would snow the next day. We joked about the possibility of Australians doing a snow dance and they said maybe later in the winter it would come and we would sadly miss it.
We both prayed for snow as it is a novelty for us Brisbanites and we wanted to see the town blanketed in white like some photos we had seen. Oscar parted for Australia soon after and the cold continued for me down in bella Roma. I therefore continued my quest for snow and questioned some Roman friends whether this was a possibility….
Many laughs were had and some said maybe in the mountainous surroundings but never really in the centre. However, two years previously the Romans had some light snow/sleet and a day of quasi-snow and before that it had only snowed extensively in the cold winter of 1984/85.
A week or so later, the same friends that quaffed at my suggestion of snow, expressed feelings of concern that snow would fall heavily all over central and northern Italy the following night. I scarcely believed them and the Roman weather forecast but the secret Australian wishes for snow were granted that very night in early February…
An eerie silence fell upon Roma at midnight as the flakes began magically appearing out of the surprisingly dark sky. I happened to be at my favourite nightspot ‘Circus’, with a few Romans game enough to be out and about that night. The excitement was contagious as the snow continued with many of the locals in disbelief of the fact.
Some had never seen so much snow fall in their lifetimes as the famous cobblestones disappeared with layers of beautiful and huge flakes!
By the time it was time to finally close and leave the warmth of the bar, Roma was “sotto le neve” or literally under the snow.The walk home was taken carefully not to fall and break something and also with awe and wonder at the serenity of snow capped churches and piazzas.
A walk through a white-out Piazza Navona was something worthwhile to remember and the experience was completed with a tip toe home to sleep in Trastevere with that beautiful squeaky sound of snowflakes compounding under your feet. Biggest Roman snowfall in over 40 years, and the entire country was shutdown with snow even gracing the shores of southern Puglia. Unheard of, I was lucky to witness the spectacle.
By Edward Close