Monday, February 13, 2012

Great Roman snow storm of 2012...well, sort of

We left Rome for Pompeii last Friday under a cover of darkness...that is, at 6:30 am. What sane person is up at that hour?? The morning was cold as we departed and snow was forecasted. I had high hopes that it would be a light dusting and nothing more as that's all the snow Rome has seen in the last 25 years or so. Was I wrong.

My first clue that something was awry was when we were waiting for our train back to Rome. I was looking at the board to see which platform we were on when "cancellato" scrolled past me. Cancelled? Huh? Oh gosh. Ok, ok. Breathe. Talk to someone. Breathe. Had it just been me, no worries. But 21 other people? Oh my. My colleagues and I made our way over to the information office where a line had already begun to form. We waited, prayed, waited, and prayed until our turn finally came. I asked the man if our train had been cancelled. Yes, it was cancelled. I asked him what we should do. He said that there was another train departing in 20 minutes and I could take that one. I told him that there were 22 of us. His eyes grew large and he repeated the number back to me. Yep, 22. Ok, there is room in cars 9, 10, and 11. Just get on one of those. Could it really be that easy? We headed back to our group and made our way to our new platform. I stopped the conductor to confirm what the other man had told me as I certainly didn't want to be half way to Rome only to be booted from the train or fined. The man confirmed what we were told and we boarded the fast train home. Now, this was a huge blessing in and of itself as we'd purchased tickets for the slow train which takes 2 hours, but the fast train wasn't going to cost us anymore and only takes about an hour.

Anyways, we arrived back in Rome and I saw the snow that had accumulated in front of the trains. Hmm. And then I walked outside. Holy white stuff! There was a steady and heavy stream of snow falling from the sky and much of it had already built up. We quickly made our way over to where we get the bus home only to be told that buses weren't running. Thankfully, though, the Metro was. So, we boarded the Metro to Piazza Bologna and then made the 15 minute trek home---though it took us closer to 20-25 minutes as we had to slow down to account for ice and an occasional snowball. I will say, though, that it was beautiful. So peaceful and quiet.

We arrived home and quickly changed clothes. As we'd been up for forever everyone closed themselves in their room and quietly went about their business. I went to bed and anticipated waking up to slush. Again. Was I wrong.

I got up around 7am to use the bathroom and my eyes about bugged out of my head at what I saw. Snow covered everything like a white down blanket. Everything. The cactus, the palm trees, and the grape vines. It was magic. I began taking pictures and reveling in the unusual quiet of a Roman morning. Stunning. I went back to bed for a bit and waited for students to get up and see the spectacle.

The kitchen was alive with chatter when I got up as we were all in awe over the turn of events. As I drank a cup of hot coffee, we made plans to trek down to the Colosseum as the sky had cleared and the sun was out. So, we dressed and then made the trek back down to Bologna to catch the Metro as the buses weren't moving.

We joined thousands of other Romans around the Colosseum and wondered at the sight of the ancient structure surrounded by snow. Absolutely magnificent.  Students engaged in an epic battle of snowballs with Italian teens. We took pictures. We marveled. And we went home to get warm.

The snow wrought havoc on this city as they're not used to it. Buses didn't return fully until that Tuesday and there was still snow on the ground. In fact, we got more snow this past Friday and Saturday. It was wild. It didn't stick like it did the weekend before, but it was almost worse as it was sleet-like and really cold. All in all, I loved my Roman snow experience, but I am sooooo ready for spring!!

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