McDonald’s prevented from building drive-thru in Rome’s ancient Baths of Caracalla

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Italy’s highest administrative court has definitively banned McDonald’s from building a 10,000 m² outlet in the shadow of the Caracalla Baths (3rd century), one of Rome’s most famous ancient sites. Released on December 28, the Council of State’s decision upheld a lower court verdict barring the fast food chain from using land adjacent to the baths to open a drive-thru restaurant and parking lot. He also said government authorities have the right to block future development projects in or near other important heritage sites.

The court made its decision on the basis of “the importance of protecting cultural heritage”, according to its ruling. As the ancient thermal baths are located in an area comprising the Caffarella Park, the Appian Way and the Roman aqueducts which are protected by regional and national landscape plans, as well as in the historic center of Rome protected by Unesco, any project of development “expressly requires landscaping permissions”, which had not been granted previously, continues the decision.

In the future, the Lazio region and the Italian Ministry of Culture will be able to “order the suspension of works aimed at modifying the landscape” both on existing heritage sites and on sites that the authorities “intend to protect”. This effectively makes it possible to “safeguard spaces or real estate which have not yet been declared of cultural or landscape interest”, indicates the decree.

“This clarification is extremely important for the future protection of our cultural and archaeological heritage,” Italia Nostra, a heritage protection organization, said in a statement. The Ministry of Culture should not “intervene in extremis” in future cases but work towards more coherent co-planning between the State and the regions “on the whole of the national territory”.

The Baths of Caracalla were built from 212 to 216 and opened to the public during the reign of Emperor Caracalla. At its peak, the enormous structure, which was decorated with marbles, mosaics and carvings, was reportedly visited by between 6,000 and 8,000 people every day. It was free to attend.

McDonald’s had already started to build its drive-in next to the old thermal baths, following a favorable review of the project by the Ministry of Culture and the city council which authorized it, but the project was halted in 2019 when the then mayor of Rome, Virginia Raggi, intervened following a media outcry. The Ministry of Culture then reversed its position and also intervened to fight development.

In 2016, another McDonald’s development, in Piazza del Duomo in Florence, was blocked off by the city’s mayor, Dario Nardella, who said at the time he did not want a fast food chain. in the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, according to The temperature.

The new general manager of the McDonald’s group in Italy, Dario Baroni, has revealed that the company plans to open 200 new restaurants in Italy by 2025, according to The Republic. The group, which currently has more than 600 outlets in Italy, considers the country “as one of the markets with the greatest potential on a global scale,” Baroni told the Italian newspaper.

McDonald’s had not responded to The arts journaldeclaration requests at the time of publication. In a previous statement published before the hearing of the Council of State on December 21, he said: “Whenever [we] operating close to historic sites in Italy or around the world, our aim is to adapt with respect to the local environment ”.

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