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Rome’s Christmas tree ‘Mangy’ needled for heavy shedding

Rome's official Christmas tree in Piazza Venezia Square (left) pales by comparison to the one in St. Peters's Square at the Vatican, some Rome residents are complaining. | Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

ROME — This city’s official Christmas tree is shedding needles so quickly it has become a jolly joke for residents.

The 70-foot-high tree, which was lit up on Dec. 8, started dropping needles at a fast clip as soon as it was hoisted into the middle of Rome’s bustling main square, Piazza Venezia.

Romans have dubbed the tree “The Mangy One.” They’re also needling Rome’s mayor about the forlorn-looking specimen, which cost 48,000 euros ($57,000) to transport from South Tyrol, an Italian Alpine region.

The city said Tuesday it is investigating why the tree is ailing.

Despite the tree’s 600 silver-colored decorative balls, the half-bare branches lend the square a forlorn rather than festive look.

Critics note that across town, the Vatican’s Christmas tree, from Poland, appears healthy.