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Rome's 'baldy' Christmas tree destined for museum: report

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Tourists take pictures near the controversial Christmas tree at Piazza Venezia in Rome. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
15:23 CET+01:00
It was mocked by Romans as being “the world's saddest Christmas tree”, but the 65ft Norway spruce which captured international attention is destined for a museum as opposed to a rubbish dump, according to a report in Il Messaggero.

The tree died and lost its needles just two weeks after being erected in Rome’s main Piazza Venezia. Dubbed “Baldy”, it became such a laughing stock that mayor Virginia Raggi ordered an inquiry into what killed off the tree, which had been transported from the Italian Dolomites at a cost of €50,000, so prematurely. An initially report concluded that it had not been properly covered during transit.

There were calls for “baldy” to be removed, but it remained throughout the Christmas period, and has garnered so much affection that Rome’s leaders are reportedly considering preserving what’s left of it in a museum.

“The tree could be moved to another place – a square or more likely indoors, like a museum – where it will be secure. But considering that it’s been over a month since it left the forest in Trentino, in its current state, it won’t last much longer,” Il Messaggero reported.

But a few bureaucratic obstacles need to be overcome before the tree’s fate beyond January 6th can be determined, such as changing the contract conditions with the company hired to bring the tree to Rome and ensuring someone is responsible for ensuring its safe passage to a museum.

The tree's nickname became shorthand for Rome's wretched public services, for which critics have blamed mayor Virginia Raggi of the Five Star Movement. She also came under fire after rubbish piled up on streets in parts of the capital in the days after Christmas due to collections being disrupted by the holidays and bad weather.

And it wasn’t the first time the city’s Christmas tree has been derided, with last year’s being labelled “the ugliest in the world”. But Raggi leapt to its defence, arguing that both the tree and its lights had been donated to the city, allowing the council to put the money saved towards projects to help residents.

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