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McDonald's sues Florence for $20mn over refusal to allow restaurant on iconic square

McDonald's sues Florence for $20mn over refusal to allow restaurant on iconic square
McDonald's has filed a $20 million lawsuit against Florence, Italy, for blocking its plans to open a restaurant on the iconic Piazza del Duomo, one of the most visited places in Europe.

The US fast food chain told AFP it was claiming some €17.8 million ($19.65 million) in damages, saying the suit was being filed with the administrative court which arbitrates in governance disputes in Italy.

The Piazza del Duomo, located in the heart of Florence’s historic city center, is a gem of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Its buildings include the domed Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral, the Giotto bell tower, the Opera del Duomo Museum, and the St. John Baptistery.

Florence's mayor, Dario Nardella, rejected McDonald's application in June, saying "McDonald's has the right to submit an application, because this is permitted under the law, but we also have the right to say no."

"We don't have any prejudice [against McDonald's]," Nardella said, noting that the company had opened restaurants "in other parts of town."

A Facebook campaign launched to oppose the opening of a McDonald’s restaurant on the historic plaza received more than 17,000 likes.

“There is no need for a McDonald’s in such a beautiful place. Italian street food is so good and so diverse. The customers and tourists have their own part to play in that story. If I go to Italy, I want to eat Italian food. There are McDonald’s enough on this planet,” one user wrote.

“McDonald’s has ten million other places where they can sell what they call ‘food’ (I don't think it is). But there is only one Piazza Duomo, and it should keep its cultural integrity. This is not a matter of competition for the cheapest food!” another person added.

To make their point, FB users shared an edited photo of Michelangelo’s David, depicting the statue as obese, highlighting the argument that the restaurant would not only threaten the city's cultural heritage, but endanger people’s health too.

Last month plans to open a McDonald’s on a piazza next to Saint Peter’s Square in Rome had angered cardinals who live above the proposed site, La Republicca reported, noting that if permission were granted, it could bring in €30,000 ($33,000) a month to the Vatican's wallet.

“It’s a questionable, aberrant choice, to say the least,” Cardinal Elio Sgreccia told the Italian daily, adding that the proposal to open a fast food branch near the historic square in Rome is “by no means respectful of the architectural traditions of one of the most characteristic squares which look onto the colonnade of Saint Peter’s, [and is] visited every day by thousands of pilgrims and tourists.”

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