The biggest Christmas tree in the world is the one in Gubbio – a magical sight that will get anyone in the holiday spirit.
The Lombard writer Gianni Rodari (1920-1980), in one of his many children’s poems, once wrote, “S’io fossi il mago di Natale / farei spuntare un albero di Natale / in ogni casa, in ogni appartamento / dalle piastrelle del pavimento, / ma non l’alberello finto, / di plastica, dipinto / che vendono adesso all’Upim: / un vero abete, un pino di montagna, / con un po’ di vento vero / impigliato tra i rami, / che mandi profumo di resina / in tutte le camere, / e sui rami i magici frutti: regali per tutti” (“If I was the Christmas wizard / I would conjure a Christmas tree, / in every house or flat / from the floor tiles… / a true fir or mountain pine, / with a little breeze / caught between the branches, / giving off a scent of resin / In every room, / and on the branches magical fruit: presents for everyone.”).
Instead of waiting for a Christmas wizard to make Rodari’s wonderful dream come true, the residents of the town in Umbria – which in 1207 welcomed Saint Francis when he renounced his patrimony and left his hometown, Assisi – decided to take matters into their own hands. In 1981, they set up a single tree that the whole town could enjoy.
Ten years later, their tree – resting on the side of Mount Ingino – set the Guinness world record with its 450-meter base, 750 meters of height, and 130,000-square-meter surface (equivalent to thirty soccer fields).
The tree is made of almost one thousand lights, wired to about eight kilometers of electrical cables. It lights up on the evening of December 7, the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and is left on until January 6, day of the Epiphany.
Just like magic.