The streets of Rome were a rare shade of white Saturday after a snowfall blanketed the Italian capital, while heavy snow added to the misery of Eastern Europe's deadly cold snap.

The Italian city woke to its second snowfall in two days, which caused traffic to grind to a halt in some places.

Officials decided to bar visitors from Rome's most famous tourist attractions, the ancient Colosseum and the adjacent Roman Forum. They also closed Palatine Hill, the former home of Rome's ancient emperors, over fears tourists could slip and fall.

"We haven't seen this kind of snow in the Italian capital since 1986," freelance journalist Sabina Castelfranco told CBC. "The mayor of the city has said people should not venture outside in their cars unless they have snow chains, which no one has in this city because it never snows."

Civil protection authorities distributed about 2,000 shovels in central Rome piazzas and asked people to help clear some of the snow.

"Of course it's not just a problem for Rome itself, but there has been a lot of snow in Italy, up to two metres in some places and entire towns are closed off," Castelfranco said.

 In London, officials at Heathrow Airport have cancelled 30 per cent of flights for Sunday amid forecasts of up to 15 centimetres of snow.

Eastern Europe's unrelenting cold snap, meanwhile, produced another heavy snowfall in the Balkans on Saturday, trapping people in their homes and cars, causing power outages, and closing airports, railway stations and bus services.

Ukraine's Emergency Ministry said 1,600 people have been hospitalized with hypothermia and frostbite. Schools and colleges have also been closed for days.

In Bosnia, which woke up to more than one metre of new snow — vehicles carrying about 30 people were trapped in a tunnel south of Sarajevo.  Meanwhile, authorities in Serbia have declared a state of emergency, saying about 60,000 people are cut off because of the snow.

Motorists called local radio stations to appeal for help, saying they had children with them and were running out of fuel. But when snow plows arrived on the scene, they also got stuck Saturday, officials said.

In neighbouring Montenegro, a three-day snowstorm that has closed roads and the main airport in the capital, Podgorica, claimed its first victim: a 54-year-old man who died when an avalanche hit his car on a road near the town of Kolasin.

The weeklong cold snap — Eastern Europe's worst in decades — has killed more than 200 people, many of them homeless people, especially in countries such as Ukraine.

With files from The Associated Press