Rome's Christmas tree was officially lit on 8 December, but its adjacent solar panels aren't to everyone's liking, Source: Rome Municipality

Do you find Rome’s Xmas tree solar panels ugly?

Do you find Rome’s Xmas tree solar panels ugly?

Join (if you wish) the debate that has swirled around the Italian capital’s self-sufficient fir

Last night, Rome turned on the lights on its official Christmas tree located at Piazza Venezia. Normally, this is the formal way to give a start to the Advent celebrations lasting for a month. However, together with joy and positive vibes, the tree managed to stir up some frowns and criticism on account of the two solar panels placed next to it and their questionable aesthetic.

The idea of the local government was the promote energy self-sufficiency and responsibility in a time of volatile energy prices. For that reason, the decorative lights on the 23-m tall fir are fed by the nearby solar panels, making the tree entirely self-sufficient. But this being Italy, many have criticized that the view of the devices kind of spoils and clashes with the whole setup.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

In all fairness, much of the criticism comes from opposition politicians in the city council and thus people whose job is to find faults in anything the incumbent mayor does. And their voices of dissent started even before the official lighting.

"I am receiving messages from people who have tried to install solar panels but have been blocked by the superintendency, then seeing that the city can place two huge ones in Piazza Venezia seems like a mockery," Fabrizio Santori of the right-wing Lega told La Repubblica newspaper. "The issue of renewable energy is important, but we need respect for the scenery."

The solar panels have also been criticised by the populist Five Stars. Linda Meleo, who served as transport councillor under former mayor Virginia Raggi, said: "There were other methods to light the tree with clean energy without placing the two panels there which are objectively ugly."

City hall argues that "in this historic period, Romans have millions of euros of bills to pay" and that the use of solar energy can be seen as a message of solidarity and environmentalism. What’s more, the solar panels aren’t solely powering the tree lights but also the lights on the commercial thoroughfare Via del Corso.

Frowning upon Rome’s Christmas tree is also a bit of a local tradition, as history shows that in 2017 the fir was unfavourably compared to a toilet brush and in 2011, a papier-mâché Christmas tree was taken down only hours after it was inaugurated.

You can see the picture from Piazza Venezia and decide for yourself whether the solar panels add to the beauty of the whole thing or subtract from it.



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