For the 2011 Christmas season the lights over Via del Corso, a main street in the historical center of Rome, were green, white, and red to commemorate a hundred and fifty years of Italian unification. In 2012, tne lights were a monochrome white. In 2013, the lights over the iconic shopping street are rainbow-themed, in support of the LGBT community.
The municipal government in the capital of Italy originally made headlines for choosing a multicolored ornament for the stretch of Via del Corso to mark its stance against homophobia, following the suicide of a gay teen in the Eternal City.
“That is how we came up with the rainbow flag idea,” said councilor Imma Battaglia, who also heads a gay rights campaign group.
Fallout with the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia (Italian Brothers) shortly ensued, as the group had reportedly claimed that the rainbow visuals were “provocative and ideological.” They’ve requested that the lights be changed to red, white, and green (as they were in 2011) to symbolize the Italian flag.
Since the rising controversy over the festive lights, the company which provided the rainbow lights has ever-so-subtly trampled the reasoning of the municipal government and added their own spin, claiming that the lights were meant to be a dedication of former South African President and anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela.
“This way the message of love, tolerance, unity and sharing will become stronger,” said company boss, Laura Rossi.