The picture you see is of the courtyard outside Lecce Cathedral in Puglia, southern Italy. There are twice the number of people here skating, skidding and screaming, than there are inside at the main Sunday service.
These people are amazed and discombobulated at their first snowfall in ten years - and the longest spell of snow sticking around (for nearly a week) since the 1980s, we’re told.
And it’s a reminder that when you head south in Europe, you’re not bound to get balmy days of blazing hot sunshine, all year round. Which can be a disappointment for a vastly increased number of people making just that journey, to save energy bills in retirement.
So amongst the bubbling Italian dialects you hear French, German and English spoken - in British, Canadian and American accents too. And the same was true in Southern Portugal when we worked there recently.
Portugal is in the top ten destinations favoured by US citizens retiring abroad, as is Spain and Malta according to International Living. Mexico is at the top of the league table.
I wonder if that new Wall is going to affect things?
Friends of ours who run a property agency in the Algarve describe the sheer volume of French and Swedish pensioners, many only in their fifties, leaving behind higher taxation and lower temperatures for a coastline warmed by the Gulf Stream (therefore warmer than southern Italy).
Some get greedy. The Portuguese government will let you collect your pension from back home without paying any tax on it - if you leave behind your property in the old country, and undertake to live in Portugal. Portugal wants your money in the shops and business there instead.
But our chums report being asked to provide a contract which proves an ex-pat is renting for 6-12 months a year - but then being told “we only really want to be here for a couple of months a year”. So, in other words, they don’t really want to pass on the tax break they’ve been given to live in a lovely part of the world.
Our friends refuse.
People making that kind of request are at least being honest that they want to keep their links with their friends and families back home - and avoid the scorching temperatures of July and August - and the freezing winds of January to April, in the South.
By the way : folks in southern Portugal and Italy say the same thing : that the cold period seems to last longer. Summers are hotter.
It’s much brighter, down here, in terms of daylight. But it ain’t necessarily warm… Puglia has seen almost a month of cloud. Woe betide you if you rely on solar power alone to heat your water!
All of which came as a shock to a family from Canada that our Portuguese chums talked about. Like the Canadian Geese from their homeland, these “snowbirds” came in search of free heat.
But Southern European homes aren’t necessarily equipped with central heating or anything much more than an air-con blow heater. Locals bundle up in thick jumpers, blankets and duvets and pray for the spring.
So when the Canadians turned the heating up to a level they were accustomed to back home, they were incensed by the electricity bill they got. No Canadian home is cold. But Portuguese energy prices are dear.
The increasing number of snowbirds and ex-pats generally is extending the commercial hospitality season, and making businesses sustainable even in the winter months. Restaurant owners report being exhausted, supermarkets are busy. Bargains for accommodation out-of-season are fewer. Locals now compete with richer outsiders to buy local property.
Delightful - and cool - to live in, in the warmer months. But Ahmed and his family from North London weren’t happy with their stay. “We expected a warm winter break - but there was no heating at all. And it’s freezing!”
We left him and his loved ones huddling in a warm hotel lounge, drawing up plans for a warmer break next year - in South Africa.