Italy & the Balkans shiver in the big freeze

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Italy & the Balkans shiver in the big freeze

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It is only the fourth time in 100 years that central and southern Italy has seen snow, with Romans complaining it is the harshest winter since 1955 at least.

Funnier things may have happened on the way to the Forum, but snowbarding down the Monte Mario to get there cannot have been done many times before. One young man said it was not Cortina, but it was pretty good nonetheless.

While Rome has coped a little better, in rural areas it is a different story. Since the start of the month at least 53 people have died, and entire villages are cut off. One 96 year-old man told reporters he was holding up well:

“Are you alone?”

“No, there’s my wife. She’s sleeping. We have run out of bread.”

“Do you have electricity?”

“Yes, we still have that.”

The Balkans have seen some of the worst of the snow, blown by icy eastern winds into drifts metres deep in places. Such is the weight of the snow it has collapsed roofs and brought down swathes of forest.

In Croatia thousands are without electricity. Liquid gas supplies in the east of the country have frozen, the Adriatic ferries servicing the islands are stuck in port and winds of 180 kilometres per hour have been recorded.