We're snowed in. The ancient stone city of Split and its palm-lined seafront promenade are completely white. No one's ever seen it like this before. Businesses are closed and everyone is out, throwing snowballs. They've launched a Facebook page called "Split opens the Skiing & Bathing Season 2012" with photos of locals skiing, swimming and kayaking, as fluffy snowflakes tumble into the Adriatic.
Many Splicani own a pair of skis, but they usually use them in the high ground of the interior.
In the core of the car-free historic centre, locals have adopted a peculiar waddle, achieved by short shuffling steps, in an attempt not to slip over on the compressed snow which covers the city's beautiful marble-paved squares and alleys.
Most people are wearing rubber wellies or hiking boots. Astonishingly, one lady has donned four-inch stilettos – not a bad idea as it turns out: her heels are sharp enough to puncture the ice so she doesn't slip and slide like the rest of us.
All the general stores in the old town are closed, except for one, where the shelves are practically empty. Alcohol sold out first, followed by fresh meat, eggs, and dried beans and lentils.
On Pazar, the open-air market, only a handful of stallholders have braved the polar conditions; prices have rocketed and the choice is meagre: potatoes, carrots, wilted lettuces and little bunches of parsley suffering from frostbite.
Apparently, more than 700 people have fallen on the ice and suffered fractured limbs. (The city hospital has used up two years' supply of plaster in just five days.)
Everyone is blaming the mayor, Zeljko Kerum, for not having the roads and streets cleared. His sister, Nevenka Becic – she's president of the Split city council – shows little pity for the residents: "Everyone who went out, who didn't need to go out, can only blame themselves if something happened." And the elderly? "Old people should have children to take care of them, or nephews or nieces, with whom, through the course of life, they've behaved correctly. Or otherwise neighbours, with whom they should have built good neighbourly relations."
More snow is forecast.
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