Ministry blocks plan for McDonald’s at Caracalla Baths

Mayor Raggi relieved after her own opposition confirmed.

Italy’s ministry of culture has moved swiftly to definitively block a bid to open a McDonald’s fast-food outlet right next to the Baths of Caracalla, one of Rome’s most famous archaeological sites.

Although the project had apparently already been authorised by local authorities in the city's central Municipio 1 ward, Raggi allegedly only became aware of the project after reading about it in the local press. She immediately expressed her outrage and called for the authorisation to be revoked.

Culture minister Alberto Bonisoli stepped into the fray on Wednesday to prevent the 800 sqm outlet to rise on the site of a former garden centre, immediately adjacent to the baths, which host classical opera performances in the summer.

This is the second McDonald’s project to raise hackles in Rome, after media and intellectuals fought in vain to block the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in 1986.

Italy last year had the fourth highest number of McDonald’s restaurants in the European Union with 578, behind only Germany, France and Britain. The first of them to open in Italy, in Milan’s Piazza S. Babila, closed abruptly in 2015, reportedly after the owner of the building failed to renew the rental agreement.