Locals in Rome have reacted to the illumination of the city’s traditional Christmas tree last week with dismay and disappointment. A picture of the tree posted on the city’s official Facebook page received almost a thousand comments, almost all negative and disparaging.
The Facebook post boasts of the tree’s austerity-friendly credentials – it was donated to the city by the Alpine ski resort of Pinzolo-Madonna di Campiglio, with lighting paid for by the company Acea, and even the concrete that holds it in place in the Piazza Venezia was supplied for free. Unfortunately, the tree itself is rather threadbare and lopsided, and its appearance has not been improved by the long, thin strings of Christmas lights that have been draped over it in an artless fashion.
One commenter said: ‘reflects the situation in the city. Full of holes and covered in rubbish… At least you can’t say that we are not consistent.’ Another said: ‘it would be better to have nothing at all… You can see why tourists choose other cities.’ Others were even more horrified: ‘how miserable!! In other European cities you really breathe the Christmas spirit: lights, colours, music and sparkles! Here there is always an infinite sadness…’ But the story has a happy ending, of a sort. Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi bowed to pressure and announced: ‘Romans want a more beautiful Christmas tree at Piazza Venezia, and they’ll get one. I’ve asked for more decorations and lights to be added, within moderation.’ Some extra lights have been draped around the tree and a huge star added on the top – it remains to be seen whether the tree’s critics will be satisfied by the changes.