Piazza Venezia bids farewell to Christmas tree.
Rome's Christmas tree will move this year to Piazza del Popolo, away from its traditional location in Piazza Venezia, due to ongoing works for the Metro C subway station.
The Christmas tree, a 29-m high fir from northern Italy, is due to arrive in Piazza del Popolo on 29 November, Corriere della Sera reports.
The decision to relocate the festive tree, confirmed on Thursday by Rome mayor Roberto Gualtieri, follows the recent transformation of Piazza Venezia into a construction site as part of €700 million project set to last about a decade.
Considering the long-term timeframe of the underground works in Piazza Venezia, it is likely that Piazza del Popolo will host Rome's Christmas tree for some years to come.
Rome’s ambitious plans for the Metro C subway station in Piazza Veneziapic.twitter.com/6hOubqO4Nm
— Wanted in Rome (@wantedinrome) October 29, 2023
Traditionally the tree is illuminated by Rome's mayor on 8 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, a public holiday in Italy, however the switching-on time has yet to be announced by the city.
Also on 8 December, the mayor switches on the Christmas lights along Via del Corso, the city's central thoroughfare which links Piazza Venezia to Piazza del Popolo.
In 2018 and 2019 the American streaming giant Netflix sponsored the city's Christmas tree however since then the city has picked up the bill.
In 2017 Rome's Christmas tree was christened "Spelacchio" due to the 'mangy' specimen whose threadbare branches drew negative news headlines in Italy and around the world.
After the initial outrage over the tree, which was compared unfavourably to a toilet brush, Spelacchio won the hearts of Romans who festooned it with ironic messages of affection and sympathy.
Many Rome residents would agree however that Spelacchio was not the city's worst Christmas tree of all time, reserving that dubious honour for the white papier-mâché Christmas tree installed by former mayor Gianni Alemanno in 2011.
The short-lived tree was removed within hours but not before a Rome politician captured the general mood by calling it “the epitome of bad taste”.
Until 2015 Rome had two main Christmas trees, one in Piazza Venezia and one in front of the Colosseum. However the custom of the Colosseum tree was axed on cost-cutting grounds by former mayor Virginia Raggi.
This year, the Vatican Christmas tree and Nativity Scene in St Peter's Square will be illuminated on 9 December and will remain in place until 7 January 2024.
As for what the Romans will christen their Christmas tree, the Corriere suggests it will likely be nicknamed 'Spopolacchio', a play on the name of its new location.
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Rome's Christmas tree moves to Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
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