THE Arctic storm dubbed the “Beast from the East” set record low temperatures across much of Europe and brought a rare snowstorm to Rome, paralysing the city and giving its residents an unusual chance to ski, sledge and build snowmen in its famous parks and piazzas.

Rome’s train, plane and bus services were crippled and Italy’s civil protection agency even mobilised the army to help clear slush-covered streets as a city more accustomed to mild winters was covered by a thick blanket of snow.

Elsewhere, the storm set dangerously low temperatures. Meteorologists in Germany reported a record low for this winter of -27C on the Zugspitze mountain in the Alps.

Moscow recorded its coldest night this winter, with the mercury dipping to nearly -20C on Sunday night.

Siberia is cited as the source of the frigid temperatures.

Rome saw just a few inches of snow, but it was enough to close schools. Parks that usually stay green through winter were blanketed with snow, giving eager Romans a rare opportunity to go sledging, snow-shoeing or skiing.

Even the Circo Massimo became a hotspot for snowball fights, while Piazza Navona, with its famed Bernini fountains, turned into a winter wonderland.

Rome’s Mediterranean climate and proximity to the sea usually result in mild winters.