I'm from Gainesville, Florida which is in the northern part of the state, and I think of Rome having similar weather to that. It might snow in Gainesville once a decade give or take. And even if it snows, there's not much of it and it doesn't stick around for long. So, basically, Rome is like north central Florida where the weather is concerned.
Except it's not.
Rome is actually on the same latitude as New York City.
Can you believe it?
And that would lead us to think we'd get snow here. I'm not a meteorologist but it's pretty clear that latitude is not the only factor affecting the weather in Rome!
The bottom line is that sometimes yes, it does occasionally snow in Rome.
I went to work at 6:30am on February 4, 2012 and this view of Piazza Barberini made up for the early wakeup and the very difficult (and not allowed!) driving in the snow.
Obviously the conditions have to be right. The temps must drop to close to 0 Celsius (32 Fahrenheit), and there has to be some precipitation (rain.)
The Villa of Maxentius out on the Appian Way was really beautiful all blanketed in snow.
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Since I moved to Rome in 2001, there have been two snowfalls, one in early February 2012 and the other in late February 2018.
On both occasions, the snowfall was pretty intense for about a day or two. The snow lasted a few days after that. Then it was all over.
What happens when it snows in Rome?
Since it rarely snows in Rome, there is no hard and fast rule about what can happen when it does.
In February 2012, one of the biggest snowfalls in recent history, the Colosseum was closed for almost a week. This was for safety reasons. (Schools were also closed for several days but this is not really going to affect you, the visitor.)
We were not allowed to drive unless we had snow tires or chains on our tires.
Which meant pretty much nobody was allowed to drive because who drives around Rome with snow tires on their car?
(Caveat - I actually drove to our B&B in the snow early in the morning because I hadn't heard this news, and I was amazed to be the only person on the road although I did have to drive in first gear and go at about 10 kilometers per hour due to so much snow and slush.)
Piazza Barberini early on February 4, 2012, when we had a massive snowfall. I was one of a very few people driving that morning.
We are not equipped for snow here, as are places in colder climates.
We don't have snow plows or salt or other methods for clearing piazzas, sidewalks, and streets.
City workers do what they can but we pretty much have to just wait for the snow to melt.
On the rare occasion we get snow in Rome, the city is just not that equipped to deal with it but they do the best they can.
As far as how snow in Rome could affect you and your visit here, you should:
Not worry about things being closed. This will depend on a lot of factors, none of which you can control. But again, since snow in Rome is pretty rare, it's very unlikely things will be closed because of it while you are here. If it does happen, simply find another thing to Rome. We are never without museums, monuments, churches, and things to see in Rome!
Whether it rains, sleets, or snows in Rome, you'll want to be prepared. Here is what I wear when I walk around Rome in winter, and my recommendations for packing for winter weather in Rome:
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My husband inspired me to get a rain hat. He was always wearing one for walking around Rome, and I got one for myself too! I love this one because it's quilted perfect for cold winter rain (or snow!)
This waterproof rain boonie hat is similar to what my husband wears. When it's raining in Rome, he doesn't leave home without it!
I own these e-tip gloves and just love them. They are perfect for cold weather, and I can keep them on while I use my phone to make calls or take pix.
I've washed them more than once, and they look brand new.
A scarf is a must at any time of year in Rome. In winter, I love having a large pashmina which I find more versatile than just an oblong scarf. And I like a blend of cashmere and silk because it's not overly hot, and it doesn't make me itch.
Bonus - these are great for the plane ride too!
In Italy,men wear scarves year-round. It's partly for the fashion and mostly because Italians have a firm belief in always keeping your neck warm.
Unless you have a need for anything fancier, the best jacket you can wear when sight-seeing in Rome in February is a water-proof hiking jacket, with removable lining.
I have several for when I hike, and I wear them in Rome in winter. They are perfect! Mine are Colombia (like the one pictured) and North Face but there are a lot of great brands.
Here is a men's version of the same kind of jacket: waterproof, sporty, and with removable lining. It's actually 3 jackets in one!
It doesn't hurt to travel in Rome (or anywhere) with a good travel umbrella. You can always buy one here, even off a street vendor.
I love mine, that has features like wind-resistant ribs, and a cool open AND close button.
Heavy cotton pants or comfortable jeans are an excellent idea for men, women, and children alike.
A warm cardigan, pullover, or turtleneck is a good idea.
Even when you take off your jacket, you will still be warm and cozy.
A half-zip or full-zip fleece is another way to be warm and comfortable while sight-seeing in Rome.
It's also easy to pack in your luggage, and to ball up and carry around in a small backpack.
Where to get the best pictures if it snows in Rome?
Try to get there much earlier in the day than I did when I took this photo back in 2012 (before I was thinking so much about taking really good photos for the site and for social media!)
When we get snow in Rome, one good spot for photos is the Pantheon, especially if you get there much earlier than I did!
The view of Roman rooftops and domes from the Spanish Steps is always lovely. Add snow and you get something really special!
If you go really early when there's snow in Rome, you can get gorgeous photos of the Spanish Steps.
When I went, it was already later in the day, but I still managed some fun pix.
Tha Spanish Steps is another place to get fun pictures of snow in Rome. And as with other landmarks, if you get there really early, you can get some more stunning shots without people. I loved this moment of this person kissing a snowman.
Around the city
If you're looking for great pix of snow in Rome, just walk around in the city centre. You'll find archways, Fiat 500's, statues, and much more.
The Clivo di Scauro on the Celian hill is one of my favorite places to visit in Rome and one of the loveliest when it snows!
Also in recent years, we've experienced such freezing temps that our fountains froze. Not all of them, but quite a few.
For this to happen, the temps have to go below zero and stay there for a while. We don't tend to get frozen fountains if there is snow in Rome.
It's odd when we have wind while the fountains are freezing, because they get frozen in a swish. It's quite pretty but actually not very good for the fountains themselves.
Why don't some fountains freeze in Rome?
I discovered that not all the fountains in Rome freeze even when it's cold enough. If a given fountain is somewhat protected it won't freeze.
Probably the most famous fountain in Rome that does not freeze is the Trevi Fountain. It's in a small square surrounded by a lot of buildings, and it would be hard for it to get cold and windy enough in that square to make the conditions right for the water to freeze.
Even if the fountains in Piazza Navona sort of freeze, they are pretty undramatic because they freeze very little. Piazza Navona seems like such a wide open space but I guess where freezing fountains are concerned, the fountains here are well-protected by all the buildings around the square.
Which are the prettiest frozen fountains in Rome?
There are still some stunning fountains in Rome to get photos of when they freeze:
Triton Fountain - Piazza Barberini
My favorite frozen fountain in Rome is the Fountain of the Triton in Piazza Barberini.
Fountain of the Naiads - Piazza della Repubblica
One of the most dramatic fountains, when it's freezing in Rome, is the Fountain of the Naiads in Piazza della Repubblica.
Four Rivers Fountain - Piazza Navona
The fountains in Piazza Navona don't freeze too much but if it's cold enough, you will find a few icicles.