AKIPRESS.COM - The Christmas tree erected in Piazza Venezia at a cost of nearly €50,000 is deceased, no more, bereft of life, a spokesperson for the capital's environment department confirmed to Corriere della Sera on Monday, a full week before Christmas.
In fact the spruce – better known by its nickname "Spelacchio", which roughly translate as threadbare, shabby or balding – was dead from the start, the spokesperson said: it left its roots in the Dolomites, literally, and was brought to Rome a mere trunk.
That doesn't necessarily explain its sickly appearance, the part of northern Italy that supplied the tree insisted. "Despite being technically dead, trees can remain luxuriant for a month and a half, two months," a spokesperson for the Val di Fiemme area in Trentino told La Reppublica.
Luxuriant Spelacchio was not. The tree was missing most of its needles, prompting some wags to compare it to a toilet brush.
"It left our valley in optimum condition," the spokesperson told Repubblica, producing photos of a much happier-looking Spelacchio being lashed to the back of a truck. "What happened is that it wasn't unloaded correctly once it arrived in Rome, which is an extremely delicate operation because there's a risk of breaking the branches."
Mayor of Rome Virginia Raggi, who authorized the payment of some €48,000 for the tree, has reportedly launched an inquiry into its untimely demise.
Whatever the reason, Spelacchio was one sorry-looking spruce, as internet users were quick to point out.