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ROME  (CBSMiami) — Italy’s capital city is decked out for the holidays with lights and decorations everywhere. But Rome’s official Christmas tree is shedding needles so quickly it has become a Christmas joke for residents.

Romans, who have a knack for giving a good nickname, have dubbed it, “spelacchio.” In Italian, that means “mangy,” “thread bear” or “balding.” But there the city’s Christmas tree stands — barely — looking a little like something the neighbors should’ve taken down weeks ago.

Tomaso Stegagno said it’s indicative of some of Italy’s underlying problems.

“I think that it’s dead and it’s very sad, a sad tree.” The problem is, Stegagno says, “it’s worldwide now, everybody knows.”

Spelacchio has been ridiculed here and bullied online. One internet user likened it to a toilet brush. Now the tree has a Twitter account: @spelacchio, with almost 5,000 followers.

When compared with trees in Washington D.C. or New York City, it is a tad reminiscent of the iconic subpar tree on the Charlie Brown Christmas special.

As if to rub it in, just down the street the Vatican has a spectacular tree in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Fabrizio Depascale, meanwhile, felt such pity that he brought a bouquet of flowers to lay by poor spelacchio. It was like coming to a cemetery, he said.

“Perhaps something go wrong, on the transportation, or because there is no… there is no explanation possible.”

The city of Rome paid more than $55,000 for the tree’s delivery and disposal, and officially said hasn’t anything about the controversy.

Still, some see an elegance to it, with its 600 adorning silver balls.

A mother and daughter from Australia were surprised to learn of all the fuss.

“Maybe Romans love to be passionate about most things, and that’s just another thing to be passionate about?” quipped the mother.

Was it abused? Was it poisoned? Social media users are demanding answers and calling for a “funeral” for the spelacchio. One individual suggested burying it at the Pantheon, next to Italy’s king.


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