When we used to live in the United States, we’d drive around during the holidays looking at the various neighborhoods all lit up with Christmas lights. Living in Italy, the presepi (Italian for nativity) are found all over but a festive holiday light display is hard to come by. That’s why Tim and I made the four hour drive to Gubbio, in the Umbria region, to see the world’s largest Christmas tree!
The world’s largest Christmas tree, known also as the Mount Ingino Christmas Tree and the Gubbio Christmas Tree, was first lit in 1981 when the people of Gubbio decided to celebrate Christmas in a different way. The tree is seen as the glorification of Gubbio’s patron saint, Sant-Ubaldo. He was a twelfth century bishop of Gubbio and is buried in the Basilica di Sant’Ubaldo at the top of Mount Ingino, where the comet star crowns l’Albero piu’ Grande. In 1991, the Guinness Book of World Records officially declared it the world’s largest Christmas tree and it has been lit annually at 6:30pm on December 7th ever since.
The tree measures 650 meters high and 350 meters wide, is lit with 3000 multicolor lights along 8.5 kilometers of cable that take hundreds of volunteers three months to complete each year. The lighting of the tree on the Umbrian hilltop town has become such an important event that Pope Benedict XVI himself did the honor of lighting the tree on its 30th anniversary in 2011 with the technology of a Sony tablet from his Papal apartment in Rome and then addressed the people of Gubbio via a live feed.
Gubbio may be far off the rail lines and many of its homes hardly changed since they were built in the 14th and 15th centuries, but it is forward thinking in that the world’s largest Christmas tree has been completely lit by solar power since 2010. The tree can be seen from up to 50 kilometers away.
- The Gubbio Christmas tree is lit at 6:30pm on December 7th each year following a lighting ceremony
- The tree stays lit each year until January 10th
- You can reach Gubbio via car; the most convenient parking (pay) is off Piazza 40 Martiri
- Gubbio can also be reached via bus from Perugia; ASP has 11 buses Monday through Saturday (four on Sunday) from Perugia’s Piazza Partigiani and it takes 1 hour 10 minutes.
- Stay in the 15th century Castello di Petroia nearby to complete the medieval experience
Would you like to see the world’s largest Christmas tree?