Italy stops opening of McDonald’s near the Baths of Caracalla in Rome

Court upholds previous ruling preventing McDonald’s from opening near Rome’s heritage site.

Italy’s highest administrative court has permanently stopped McDonald’s from opening a drive-thru near the 3rd-century Baths of Caracalla in Rome.

The American fast-food chain had planned to build an outlet in a private garden center adjacent to the old site, converting former store buildings into a restaurant.

When news of the venture broke in July 2019, it caused a media outcry and led then-city mayor Virginia Raggi to call for the project to be suspended, despite being fully authorized by the authorities. local, national and regional authorities and does not involve any new construction work. .

The mayor’s appeal was answered by Italy’s former culture minister, Alberto Bonisoli, who revoked permission for the project, prompting McDonald’s to appeal the rejection of the development which he said would have created around 60 jobs.

In June 2020, the Regional Administrative Court (TAR) of Lazio rejected the appeal. McDonald’s then took the case to the Council of State which in recent days upheld the lower court’s verdict, making its decision based on “the importance of protecting cultural heritage”.

2019 rendering of the McDonald’s project near the Caracalla baths in Rome, converting the existing garden center buildings.

Significantly, the court ruled that the Lazio region and Italy’s culture ministry can “order the suspension of works aimed at altering the landscape” with both existing heritage sites and sites that the authorities “have intention to protect” – reports The arts journal – effectively allowing the “safeguarding of spaces or real estate not yet declared of cultural or landscape interest”.

The Baths of Caracalla are an extensive complex of Roman public baths or thermal baths, probably built between 212 and 216 AD during the reigns of Emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla.

It is not known what will become of the old garden center “Eurogarden”, located near the Aurelian walls and the busy Cristoforo Colombo road, and accessible by car from Via Guido Baccelli and Viale delle Terme di Caracalla.

Contrary to the impression given by some foreign media that the proposed McDrive would be built on the land of the Baths, the location in question is separated by a street, Via Antoniana, and is not visible from the ancient site due to the trees.

Last month, the new general manager of the McDonald’s group in Italy, Dario Baroni, revealed to the Italian newspaper The Republic that the company plans to open 200 new restaurants in Italy by 2025.

With 630 outlets in the country, including 54 in Rome, Baroni said the McDonald’s group sees Italy as “one of the markets with the greatest potential globally”.

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