Court upholds previous ruling stopping McDonald's from opening near Rome heritage site.
Italy’s highest administrative court has definitively blocked McDonald’s from opening a drive-through near the third-century Baths of Caracalla in Rome.
The American fast-food chain had planned to build an outlet at a privately-owned garden centre adjacent to the ancient site, converting former shop buildings into a diner.
When news of the venture broke in July 2019 it caused a media outcry and led the city's then mayor Virginia Raggi to call for the project to be suspended, despite it being fully authorised by local, national and regional authorities and not involving any new construction work.
The mayor's call was answered by Italy's former culture minister Alberto Bonisoli who revoked authorisation for the project, prompting McDonald's to appeal the rejection of the development which it said would have created around 60 jobs.
In June 2020 the Lazio Regional Administrative Court (TAR) rejected the appeal. McDonald's then took the case to the council of state which in recent days upheld the verdict of the lower court, reaching its decision on the basis of the “importance of protecting cultural heritage."
Significantly, the court ruled that the Lazio region and the Italian culture ministry can “order the suspension of works aimed at altering the landscape” both with existing heritage sites and sites that the authorities “intend to protect” - reports The Art Newspaper - effectively allowing for the “safeguarding of areas or real estate that have not yet been declared to be of cultural or landscape interest."
The Baths of Caracalla is a sprawling complex of Roman public baths or thermae, likely built between 212 and 216 AD during the reigns of emperors Septimius Severus and Caracalla.
It is not known what will happen at the former 'Eurogarden' garden centre, which is located near the Aurelian Walls and the busy Cristoforo Colombo road, and can be accessed by car from both 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 grounds of the Baths, the location in question is separated by a street, Via Antoniana, and is not visible from the ancient site due to trees.
Last month the new chief executive of the McDonald's group in Italy, Dario Baroni, revealed to Italian newspaper La Repubblica that the company plans to open 200 new restaurants in Italy by 2025.
With 630 outlets in the country, 54 of which are in Rome, Baroni said the McDonald's group sees Italy as "one of the markets with the greatest potential on a global scale."
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Italy stops McDonald's opening near Baths of Caracalla in Rome
Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
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