-Italian capital grinds to halt as severe weather halts traffic
-Locals shiver in tiled homes thanks to city's heating restrictions
- -36C temperatures across eastern Europe send death toll to 176
-Military on alert in the UK as temperatures drop and snowfall is predicted
-Over 11,000 villagers in Serbia trapped by snowdrifts and blizzards
-Death toll in Ukraine now 122, with 38 people killed by cold last night
By EMMA REYNOLDS
Roman roads: An aerial view showing the snow-covered Colosseum, which was closed to tourists today
The Colosseum and other ancient tourist sights closed to tourists as Rome saw snow for the first time in 26 years.
Traffic in the Italian capital ground to a halt as buses struggled to climb icy hills and authorities accustomed to a warm climate fought to cope.
Visitors were stopped from entering the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors, over fears they could slip on ice.
Island in the snow: The rare cold snap leaves the Italian city's Tiber island blanketed with frost
Breathtaking: Historical sights including St Peter's Square in Vatican City looked as if they had been frozen in time
Desolate grace: The capital's iconic Colosseum, left, and Roman Forum, right, have not been snowed upon in nearly three decades
The news came as as the big freeze took hold of Europe, taking the continent's death toll to more than 176.
The last substantial snowfalls in Rome were in 1985 and 1986, though there have been other cases of lighter snow since then, including in 2010.
Snow began falling on Friday morning, leaving a light dusting on trees and cars and forming slush on the roads.
After easing for a few hours, wind-driven snow started falling again heavily in the city before midnight and continued into this morning.
Icing on the cake: The city's pretty Spanish Steps are piled with frosting following heavy overnight snowfall
The authorities ordered cars without tyre chains off the road till at least noon as vehicles were trapped for hours on the ring road after many cars skidded and frustrated drivers abandoned their vehicles having waited hours for accidents to be cleared.
Since the capital rarely sees freezing temperatures, heating in homes is only legally allowed for 10 to 12 hours a day, to cut down on pollution. The cold snap, with temperatures hovering at or just below the freezing point, left Romans shivering in their homes, many of which have tile and marble floors.
Rome, Italy: Tourists walk past the iconic Colosseum during snowfalls today, while a resident in the city shivers under his umbrella
Snow dusted pine and palm trees and changed into slush on the cobblestone streets in the centre. In many neighbourhoods, 6cm (2.5 inches) of snow accumulated.
After hearing the forecasts on Thursday night, Mayor Gianni Alemanno cancelled classes on Friday and Saturday, but said school buildings would stay open so working parents could drop off their children if they had no other place to leave them.
Rome, Italy: Tourists are forced to bring out their brollies as they walk past the Arco di Costantino during snowfalls today. The snowflakes are the first in the city for 26 years