Rome wasn't built in a day, but it looks like its Christmas tree may have been. The "toilet brush" of a tree now standing in one of the city's busiest public squares and being roundly mocked in Italy and around the world makes Charlie Brown's Christmas tree look lush by comparison. The New York Times reports that the 72-foot-tall Norway spruce erected in the Piazza Venezia and nicknamed "Spelacchio," or "Mangy," will cost the city about $57,000 in all—and locals are outraged that so much money was outlayed for a tree that one expert says "has clearly been traumatized." Thrillist documents some of the online reaction to the sad, needle-sparse spruce, which it calls a "balding network of pines and brittle branches."
"Maybe the dogs drank all the water in the tree stand?" one amused viewer tweeted, while another offered a backhanded compliment: "Big fan of Rome's Christmas tree for looking how we all feel." Others defend the tree, saying it looks OK when it's lit up at night. "We are all Spelacchio!" one supporter told a local paper. Per the Times, the tree even has a few Facebook accounts and a Twitter handle in its name, with one tweet proclaiming: "I have more followers than branches." A consumer rights group that calls the tree a "shameful spectacle for citizens and tourists" is lobbying to have the tree taken down and has asked a local court to scrutinize the tree's costs. Rome's mayor says her office is also looking into TreeGate. (Read more Christmas tree stories.)