Twitter users pan ‘ugly’ Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia

Picture from Rai News: Spelacchio 2018

ROME - The Christmas tree chosen to adorn Rome’s Piazza Venezia has sparked controversy for a second-year running. It has been named ‘Spelacchio’, as last year's tree was. The name translates as bald and is perhaps fitting given its somewhat damaged branches.

 The tree has been sponsored by Netflix, who recently created an advertisement publicising its arrival. It was taken from Cittiglio, a municipality in the province of Varese. A representative for Igp Decaux, the company which oversaw Netflix's project, has provided an explanation for the tree’s unassuming appearance: “in order to enable the tree’s safe transportation, some branches were removed by experts on a size basis. No branch was broken during the transportation.”

 Unfortunately, however, the ugly appearance of the tree has sparked controversy on Twitter. One Twitter user commented, “Last year the Roman Xmas tree was dead on arrival. This year it just wishes it was,” while another wrote, “After its pathetic Xmas tree last year, you’d think Rome’s city hall would up its game. But oh, no. Introducing #Spelacchio II.”

 Yet the following tweet was posted on Spelacchio’s Twitter account: “Dismantled and reassembled with jet lag. I would like to see you after a night of travelling.”

 Many Twitter accounts have in fact been created assuming the identity of the tree. One was called, “The real Spelacchio”, another, “Spezzacchio.” Some users defended the tree’s appearance, with one person tweeting, “it isn’t broken, it is simply pointed.”

 The tree, at a height of over 20 metres, shall be decorated with 60,000 low-consumption LED lights, and 500 silver and red baubles. It will be installed and decorated over the coming days, and presented to the public on Dec. 8 by mayor, Virginia Raggi. It will be lit up for 24 hours every day. In one of the piazza’s flowerbeds, there will also be an ‘interaction area’, where tourists and residents can take photos.

 The 376 thousand euros that it cost to pay for the tree’s preparation has been provided for by its sponsor.