For all the talk about how great the Roman Empire was — spanning most of Europe through Turkey and even parts of Africa, aqueducts, vomitoriums — it’s easy to forget that Rome is still a place. But, brother, have times been rough for the place that once all roads led to.
The city of Rome paid $57,000 for a Christmas tree that is less evergreen and more Charlie Brown. It’s so scraggly that ashamed locals are referring to it as “spelacchio” (or “baldy and mangy”), “a plucked chicken” and — our favorite — “the toilet brush.”
Somebody even launched a Twitter account for the tree in which Spelacchio (that’s its name now) neurotically compares itself to other city’s trees like an insecure boyfriend. (“What do you mean ‘gay apparel?’ Are you saying this tinsel makes me look gay?”)
In hindsight, maybe Rome was great, but maybe it would still have dignity had Hannibal leveled it with elephants.