Covid-19 threatens to dampen the Christmas spirit in Rome this year.
Christmas in Rome in 2020 was never going to be anything like other years, due to the shadow of covid-19, but now there is a question mark hanging over the city's Christmas tree, a hugely popular fixture in the festive season.
There are various reasons for the uncertainty around this year's Christmas tree, however the main factor relates to Italy's covid-19 restrictions that prohibit people from gathering together.
Crucially, with just a month to go before the tree is normally installed, there is also no sign of any sponsor stepping up to foot the bill, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
For the last two years, Netflix, the American media services provider, has sponsored the tree which always attracts large crowds over the Christmas holidays in Rome.
A few months ago the city said that the tree would move to Piazza del Popolo, at the opposite end of Via del Corso.
Despite the majesty of Piazza del Popolo, the location lacks the backdrop of the Altare della Patria, the Colosseum in the near distance and the bustle of commuters passing through Piazza Venezia.
Venue aside, the ban on crowds could dent the enthusiasm of potential sponsors and, as La Repubblica points out: "Who would place an advertisement in an empty piazza?"
Last year the tree's sponsor - Netflix - was announced in mid-September but so far this year there has been no announcement from the capital.
Rome certainly has bigger fish to fry right now but the city's residents, particularly the smallest ones, will be in need of a little Spelacchio magic more than ever at the end of this dismal year, even if we must experience it via social media.
And what better way to raise our flagging spirits than the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree?
Photo credit: ValerioMei / Shutterstock.com.