Christmas tree in central Rome ridiculed on social media.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.
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.”