Snow in Rome: how likely it is + how to deal with it. All you need to know.

by marta

Does it snow in Rome? All you need to know about the chances of snow when visiting Rome in winter, how it can affect your stay, how to plan for it .

If you are planning a trip to Rome in the winter, you may wonder if you should pack for snow.

Your doubt is legitimate.

While Rome’s location tends to suggest snow is a non issue in the Eternal City, photos of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum covered in a blanket of snow are all over the web and they are not photoshopped.

The Roman Forum in Rome covered in snow
Roman Forum with snow.

Indeed, sometimes it does snow in Rome.

However, this is a rather rare occurrence, the photos being more a memento of something unusual than a document of the city’s winter appearance.

I know this well. I adore snow and every year I have a secret wish in my heart that snow will make an appearance and I can be a kid for a day again and go wild with photos and snowmen.

A wish most of the times disappointed!

Weather patterns are so unpredictable lately that it is impossible to give an accurate prediction about whether it will snow in Rome during your stay.

However, based on personal experience of over forty winters in the city and current weather predictions, it is possible to give you an idea of what to expect in terms of snow in Rome, in the coldest months of the year.

In this article, you will find all you need to know about snow in Rome, including how common it is and how it can affect your stay.

How often does it snow in Rome?

Snow is rare occurrence in Rome.

In the last twenty years, it only snowed seven times and only handful of those brought more than a light dusting.

Tiberina island in Rome covered in snow in February 2018

1956 – The snowfall of 1956 in Rome is historical as it brought to Rome a proper blanket of snow that covered the city for several days.

The even was so special and unexpected, several songs remember it: that’s how unique an event it was!

1985 – Ask any Roman who was little in the Eighties (like me!) and they will sure remember the snowfall of 1985.

It was the morning of the 6th of January and kids from all over the city woke up in a state of excitement for the arrival of La Befana, the magical visitor who bring sweets to kids on the occasion of the Epiphany, celebrated that day.

Even before we could get to the sweets however, we also had out jaws dropping when we looked out of the window to find the city entirely covered with snow!

The snowfall has been heavy and the city stayed covered in a thick blanket of snow for days, becoming a large playground for snowball fights and snowmen making!

2012 – Another heavy snowfall covered Rome in white flakes in February 2012.

The snow reached a height of 20 cm and blocked the city for couple of days, for the delight of kids who saw closed schools and endless opportunities for snow games and photographers, who went photo crazy to document the event.

2018 – Many of the photos of snowy Rome you see online today are from February 2018.

Throughout one night and one morning, a decent snowfall covered the city and gave a dusting of powdery flakes to the Colosseum and Rome’s main attractions.

Despite the beauty of the moment, the snow only lasted a few hours and quickly melted into mucky, freezing water.

Winter in Rome. Snow falling on Imperial Fora ancient ruins

As you can see from the list above, snow is not unseen in Rome but stays a pretty special, unique event.

The most likely months for snow in Rome are January and February.

Will it snow in Rome in 2021/2022?

In the last few days, there has been a lot of talk about the chance of snow in Rome in late 2021 / beginning of 2022.

Meteorological events such as La Nina make snow possible and several hilltop towns just outside Rome have already seen snow.

At present, experts believe there is a 20% change of snow in Rome and that most likely months for it are December, January and early February.

You can check the weather on the local website: Il Meteo (forecast up to 14 days)

What happens in Rome when it snows + tips

Snow in Rome is a rare event and this has consequences on the ability of the city to deal with it.

View of St Peter's Dome at the Vatican with a dusting of snow
saint peter cathedral white under the snow in city rome

Rome is not able to deal efficiently with snow and even a small amount of it has heavy consequences on traffic and mobility.

On a snow day, many things will close down, bus transport is likely to come to a halt or a least be severely affected and roads can be treacherous for ice.

Romans are likely to be equally divided between those exasperated by the lack of infrastructure and those who embrace the snow as a fun event.

The best way to deal with snow in Rome, should you be in town when it comes, is to try to relax and go with the flow.

Tourist attractions may or may not close, depending on how heavy the snowfall is.

If you have bookings, you will have to see how the sites you are visiting are dealign with the emergency on the day.

In all cases, make sure you take plenty of time to go even short distances and budget extra time and patience if you need to catch a cab.

What to pack for snow in Rome

Unless you are going to Rome on a day when you know you will find snow, you don’t need snow gear for Rome.

Even in the case of heavy snowfall, you are usually able to handle the streets of Rome with a warm coat, scarf, hat and good walking boots.

If you can, I recommend you opt for boots that are warerproof and with a good rubber sole.

These are good in case of snow but they are also the best type of shoes to have in Rome in winter for sightseeing in the rain or on very cold days.

To help you plan your winter packing, I have prepared a winter packing list for Rome.

It has all you need to pack for the Eternal City and dress code tips that can be useful to visit churches and archaeological sites especially.

The most spectacular places for a snowy day in Rome

Rome is a large, sprawling city and snow will affect different parts of it in different ways. If the snowfall happens in the city center, you can make the most of it and take spectacular photos of the event.

Some of the best places to take snowy photos of Rome are:

The back of the Capitoline Hill – if the stairs to Piazza del Campidoglio are clear and non slippery, make your way up and then head to the back of the square for stunning view of the Roman Forum (free) one of the best viewpoints in Rome.

The top of the Oppian Hill – the option hill is in front of the Colosseum and one of the best places to catch a view of the amphitheatre on a snowy day! This is one of the best photos spots in Rome.

Piazza Navona – flat, large and spectacular, Piazza Navona is a sight to behold when covered in snow.

Lungotevere – Lungotevere is the name of the long roads that follow the meandering journey of the river Tiber. Head here to catch beautiful views of Tiberina Island and some of the most beautiful bridges in Rome.

St Peters’ Square – The Vatican is stunning covered in snow. St peter’s square is flat and should stay easy to access even under snow. If you have access to Villa Doria Pamphili, you can instead catch beautiful views of its dome.

I hope you fond this quick overview of snow in Rome and how to deal with it useful. Safe travel planning!

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