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Spelacchio gets a second chance: Rome's ‘mangy' Christmas tree to be recycled

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Spelacchio gets a second chance: Rome's ‘mangy' Christmas tree to be recycled
Workmen removing, then reinstating, Spelacchio's decorations on Tuesday. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
18:03 CET+01:00
Finally, some good news for Rome's much-mocked Christmas tree: the balding spruce will be turned into a shelter for breastfeeding mothers after it is removed from the capital's Piazza Venezia on Thursday.

There had been talk of consigning the infamous tree – nicknamed Spelacchio, or “Baldy” – to a museum of modern art. But on Tuesday it was announced that the tree would instead be chopped up and used to build a wood cabin for parents and children, equipped with a nursing chair, changing table and play area.

One part of the lumber will be kept for permanent display, Rome's Five Star Movement mayor, Virginia Raggi, said.

“Over time Spelacchio won the overwhelming majority of people's fondness and affection,” Raggi commented. “Now it will get a new life. We want to make this international star a concrete example of creative recycling.”

The tree – which Raggi's office paid nearly €50,000 to transport from a forest in the north of Italy to Rome – will be taken down on Thursday in an official send-off ceremony.

There was a false alarm on Tuesday morning, when workers were spotted removing some of Spelacchio's decorations, including the star on top. The operation was premature, however, and they were promptly ordered to reinstate them.


Back the baubles go. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

“We're reconnecting the electricity and the tree will be lit up this evening,” one workman told La Repubblica.

Romans and visitors thus have two more nights to say goodbye to Spelacchio, whose balding branches made headlines all over the world.

Despite unfavourable comparisons to a toilet brush, many came to defend the tree, which found itself covered in notes and cards from members of the public. These will be turned into a book, Ansa reported.

Raggi ordered an inquiry into the cost of Spelacchio, which arrived in Rome from the Val di Fiemme area in Trentino noticeably threadbare. The findings have yet to be published.

Once it's removed, the tree will return to Val di Fiemme one more time to be turned into lumber – at no additional cost to the taxpayer, Rome's city council assured. 

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