The Italian city of Rome is facing a pre-Christmas backlash after it blew $60,000 on a Christmas tree that’s been described as looking like a toilet brush.
The capital’s Christmas tree was erected in the main square Piazza Venezia and has shed so many needles it has become the laughing stock of the city.
The 21 meter spruce cost almost €50,000 ($60,000) to transport from the alpine region of South Tyrol and has been dubbed Spelacchio by residents, roughly translating as plucked, threadbare or balding.
Despite the 600 silver ornaments that adorn its branches, the tree was officially declared dead today.
Compared by some to a toilet brush, it has received an overwhelmingly negative response from the city’s residents.
“It’s a disgrace. It hurts even to look at this Christmas tree,” one Roman resident told Reuters Television, going on to compare it to a plucked chicken.
A spoof Twitter account was rapidly established in its name and has over 4,000 followers – “more followers than branches” as it says itself.
— Luca Nobili (@LucaNobili) December 9, 2017
The unkempt state of the tree is for many the latest in a series of signs that the city is in the process of decay.
Many have turned on mayor Virginia Raggi who has been facing heavy criticism for the worsening state of the city.
Pope Francis spoke out against the unchecked signs of decrepitude in Rome, issuing a prayer on the Feast of the the Immaculate Conception, using the time to highlight issues such as “resignation to environmental and ethical degradation” and “civic incivility”.
For many, Rome’s moral depravity has found physical manifestation in the city itself with the crumbling and unkempt streets lined with potholes and piles of rubbish.
Many have compared the fast-unravelling Christmas tree to the governing Five Star Movement’s inability to come good on promises to clean up the capital.
The consumers’ group Codacons has called for an investigation into the amount of money spent on transporting the shabby spruce to the capital.
Additionally Raggi has ordered an inquiry into the early demise of the tree. According to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, a preliminary inquiry revealed that Spelacchio was not properly covered during its transportation.
Many have pointed to the lustrous red fir in St Peter’s Square in the Vatican, as well as one erected in the northern city of Milan as what a festive tree should look like.
Such comparisons have led many to reflect on the official capital’s diminishing wealth while other cities prosper.