February 3, 2012 / 1:42 PM / in 6 years

Rare Rome snowstorm closes Colosseum

ROME (Reuters) - Heavy snow fell in central Rome Friday, giving tourists a rare sight of whitened landmarks such as Saint Peter’s Square and the Trevi Fountain, while the Colosseum and the Roman Forum were closed due to the icy conditions.

In the heaviest snowfalls in the Italian capital since the 1980s, around 40 cm of snow had settled in the northern outskirts of the city by midday. It is forecast to intensify throughout the day and overnight, before easing off Saturday.

Mayor Gianni Alemanno instructed schools to remain open on Friday and Saturday but not to hold any lessons in order that children unable to attend did not fall behind. He said Friday only 5 percent of children had gone to school.

The unaccustomed snow caused traffic jams around the ancient city.

Heavy snow has fallen over much of Italy this week causing severe disruption to train and road transport, especially in the mountainous regions of Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany and Umbria.

Wednesday passengers were stuck for seven hours in the countryside on a train that was to have gone from Bologna in the north to Taranto in the south after the electrical wires froze over.

Reporting By Gavin Jones

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