The Italian Almanac

Christmas tree

Italian News - December 20

Rome commuters of all ages and with all kinds of problems are asking Santa Claus for a helping hand by sticking messages to him on a huge Christmas tree in the city's main railway station. The six-metre tree in the main concourse is now covered in hundreds of hastily scribbled notes urging the seasonal gift provider to produce everything from world peace to the latest computer game.

Although a Christmas tree has been erected in Rome's Termini station many times before, this is the first year rail travellers have decided to use it as a hotline to Santa, entrusting it with their most private desires: the tree has become a sort of catalogue of the hopes and fears of the cross section of Italian society which passes through the station each day.

Some of the messages are simple lists of gifts that would be appreciated on December 25, occasionally garnished with a thought for the rest of the world.

"I'm four years old. I would like an end to all wars, a play station, the Winnie-the-Pooh game and pinball," was the succinct message from a boy called Francesco. Giancarlo said simply that he wanted "happiness for my whole life". Another at least had clear ideas about what that meant: "I want a life full of rave parties that goes on until I drop dead," said someone called Massimo.