Several decades ago deep in the distant lands of Umbria a group of men met. Without exception they were Eugubine. Men from the city of Gubbio. Nestling on the west foothills of the Apeninnes over the lower slopes of Monte Ingino, Gubbio is one of the most traditional, masculine and proud medieval cities in central Italy.
Fought over for centuries the city retains an erect sense of defiance. Beautifully preserved medieval streets are encircled by tall city walls. These still largely intact walls are pierced by four entrance gates which give entrance to the four ‘quartieri’. Each quartieri having their name church and traditional tunic colours. The belicosity of the Eugubine is manifested today by a series of crossbow competitions with neighbouring cities. These competitions are ‘must see’ events for the traveller.
So strong is the pride and animosity of the Eugubine and neighbouring Gualdese, the citizens of Gualdo Tadino that a skirmish occurred only recently. When the hospital board proposed the closure in each town of their hospitals they constructed new one to serve both. Built between the two towns, but in the comune of Gubbio, the Gualdese refused to use the anti-natal unit. Citizens of Gualdo Tadino did not want their children to have ‘born in the comune of Gubbio’ on the birth certificates. As a result a local law passed that room in the hospital be ceded to the comune of Gualdo Tadino.
I digress. How that meeting so many years ago came about I have yet to discover, its history is lost in the mists of time. What the true purpose of the meeting was, is similarly forgotten. However the outcome lives to today and manifests itself in the “World’s Largest Christmas Tree“. The decision to string coloured lights from the city wall to the summit of Monte Ingino in the shape of a Christmas tree is one that still renders me slightly speechless and with a broad cheesy grin. To think of a group of macho men conceiving a hillside dressed with coloured lights is surreal. But that decision was made and each December the lights of the tree illuminate the medieval city. I am so glad that they did, and continue to do so.
The team of volunteers ranging in ages from 19 to 86 years old have been and are busy. The slopes are being adorned with 8.5kms of electric cable and over four hundred coloured florescent lights. They work hard, real hard. The planning is huge and work arduous. The Eugubine are proud, quite rightly so. The result is spectacular. The summit of Monte Ingino is adorned with a huge led flashing star strapped to a massive scaffold. A few years ago, with the aim of being ecological solar panels were installed to power the tree.
The tree is switched on with a huge party and firework display on 7th December. Last year I witnessed the event from a friend’s terrace:
The tree remains lit until early January. Not only is it splendid to see from afar, but the walk down through the lights is magical.
For the past few years Bellaugello Gay Guest House has sponsored a light on the tree. I am asking you to help this great project by also sponsoring a light. For a few Euros you can sponsor and have a light named to your choice. Click on the link below: The opportunity starts on 31st October and like concert tickets the lights go fast. Hurry, the clock is already ticking.
To choose and sponsor a light click this link: Adopt a light on the Gubbio Christmas Tree
To read more about the tree click here: Albero di Gubbio website
Let’s see how many Bellaugello guys can get their names on the tree for 2018-2019. Do let me know.