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'The Beast from the East' surprises Rome with snowfall

A rare snowstorm hit Rome, giving residents the chance to ski and build snowmen.

 / Updated 15 PHOTOS
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Tourists visit the Colosseum during a rare and heavy snowfall in Rome on Feb. 26.

An extremely cold weather front, dubbed the "Beast from the East" by the British media, is expected to bring extremely cold air from Russia to vast areas of Europe this week.

Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images
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A statue is covered in snow in front of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images
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A snow-capped St. Peter's Dome peeks through the trees.

Ettore Ferrari / EPA
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The Circus Maximus is transformed into a winter wonderland for children and families with sleds, skis and snowboards following unusually heavy snowfall.

Schools and public offices were closed and snow-removal crews were in place as Rome was on high alert for a winter blast of bad weather.

Ettore Ferrari / EPA
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The Ancient Forum covered in snow.

Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images
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Students play in a snow blanketed St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Alessandra Tarantino / AP
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American seminarian Shawn Roser throws a snowball in St. Peter's Square.

Max Rossi / Reuters
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Nuns walk past a bike covered in snow.

Max Rossi / Reuters
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People walk down the via dei Fori.

Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images
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A snowman in front of the Ancient Forum.

Vincenzo Pinto / AFP - Getty Images
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A snow-covered statue in central Rome.

Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters
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The river Tiber flows through a snow-covered Rome.

Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images
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A man carries his skis as he climbs the Spanish Steps.

Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters
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A couple kiss in front of the Colosseum.

Angelo Carconi / EPA
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Members of the Swiss Guard stand in St. Peter's Square.

Watch: Snow blankets Rome after heaviest winter storm in years

Tiziana Fabi / AFP - Getty Images
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