For the second year in a row the Christmas tree in Rome’s Piazza Venezia has been the subject of ridicule, with Romans christening it Spelacchio, a nickname which translates roughly as “mangy” or “threadbare.”
The cost incurred by the 21-m high red spruce, which some Romans have compared to a giant toilet brush, has also led to controversy. Although the tree was a gift from Val di Fiemme in the Trentino region of northern Italy, Rome paid €48,000 for its transportation, bypassing public tender in the process, and paying more than three times the €15,000 fee for last year’s tree.
Spelacchio, which has its own Twitter account with more than 3,000 followers, has been compared unfavourably to the Vatican’s Christmas tree, a 28-metre-high red fir donated from Poland, whose luxuriance has led Romans to call it “Rigoglio.”
Spelacchio has also faced unkind comparisons to Milan’s 30-m high spruce, known as “Vittorio”, a much fuller specimen donated by Sky Italia.
However Rome’s tree has been defended by the capital’s environment councillor Pinuccia Montanari who hailed its “elegance and simplicity” while underlining its compliance with “the highest environmental standards.”Rome’s 2017 Christmas tree. This is the second year in a row that the Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia has backfired on the city’s mayor Virginia Raggi of the anti-establishment Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S).
Last year the city council caved into pressure to add last-minute decorations to what was referred to widely as “the ugliest Christmas tree in Italy.”