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'Baldy toilet brush': Locals aren't happy with Rome's wilted Christmas tree

The tree cost the city almost €50,000.

Rome's official Christmas tree stands in Piazza Venezia Square.
Rome's official Christmas tree stands in Piazza Venezia Square.
Image: Alessandra Tarantino via PA Images

THE CHRISTMAS TREE in Rome’s main square of Piazza Venezia has become such a laughing stock that it led the city’s mayor to launch an investigation into what prompted its premature demise.

“Rome’s tree is dry, dead on arrival. It’s a metaphor for the state of the capital,” one local wrote on Twitter, while another wondered: “What time does the funeral start?”

According to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, a preliminary enquiry found that the tree was not properly covered during transport from the Dolomites in northern Italy, where it had been grown.

A wide range of Romans – including environmentalists and professional gardeners – have opined that a tree of a more robust variety also would have survived for longer before starting to shed.

The tree – nicknamed Spelacchio which roughly translates as ‘baldy’ or ‘mangy’ – is a Norway spruce, while the European silver fir would have been a much safer bet for a tree, these self-professed Christmas tree experts said.

Italy: The Christmas tree of Rome Renamed 'Spelacchio' Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Many have compared “the fir tree agony” – which has cost the city some €48,000 – to the governing Five Star Movement, which won the mayorship in 2016 but has struggled with a transport and rubbish crisis.

“As if the mess they have created over the past year and a half was not enough, we must put up with this misery,” tweeted another Roman.

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Italy Christmas Tree Needling Source: Alessandra Tarantino

Il Messaggero declared it a national embarrassment, saying that “in Russia, they’ve dubbed our dying tree a ‘toilet brush’.”

Read: Donegal nightclub to open on Christmas night despite objections from gardaí and locals

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