Romans decry ‘Mangy’, city’s threadbare Christmas tree, as symbol of decline

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A Christmas tree is seen in downtown Rome, Italy December 19, 2017. Photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters.

ROME (Reuters)—Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree. How mangy are your branches! That could be Rome’s version of the classic Christmas carol, which speaks instead of branches, lovely and steadfast.

Romans are up in arms over the tree that has been dubbed “Spelacchio”. Roughly translated as mangy or baldy, the name given to the tree in the capital’s Piazza Venezia has become a symbol of what many see as the eternal city’s eternal decay.

“It’s a disgrace. It hurts even to look at this Christmas tree,” one Roman resident told Reuters Television, using an Italian term suggesting that it looked like a plucked chicken.

A Christmas tree is seen in downtown Rome, Italy December 19, 2017. Photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters.

“How can they have put it in Rome, a capital city like Rome,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.

Some have even likened “Spelacchio” to a toilet brush.

Many Romans on social media have pointed a finger at Mayor Virginia Raggi, a leading light in the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, who has been getting negative seasons greetings because of the dire state of the city.

Raggi has tried to shrug off the uproar, saying the tree had been decorated in a “simple and refined” fashion.

Rome has fallen into disrepair and degradation in recent years, with streets full of pot holes, piles of garbage and unkempt public gardens where weeds grow as tall as a person.

A Christmas tree is seen in downtown Rome, Italy December 19, 2017. Photo by Tony Gentile/Reuters.