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Italy’s Ministry for Cultural Heritage stopped McDonald’s from building an outlet near a historic bathhouse in Rome.
The bathhouse, called the Baths of Caracalla /ˌkær əˈkæl ə/, dates back to the third century. It had big rooms and pools where ancient Romans would go to bathe and socialize with others.
McDonald’s had hoped to build its new store in a privately-owned garden center a stone’s throw away from the baths. The fast-food chain was even able to secure construction permit from local authorities for its planned 800-square-meter restaurant, which could accommodate 250 customers. The restaurant was also supposed to include a café and a drive-through.
Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi [RAD-ji] seconded the culture ministry’s decision and claimed that she was not aware of the planned construction. In a statement posted online, Raggi demanded the cancellation of the plan and the protection of the city’s historic sites. She was concerned that the construction of a McDonald’s outlet might affect the city’s heritage and damage the ancient bathhouse.
McDonald’s already has over 40 locations around Rome, with some of them located near famous landmarks. Fast-food chains like McDonald’s are often blamed for the buildup of trash in the historic city.
In a statement, McDonald’s defended its plans, saying that the restaurants it builds near historic sites all over the world remain respectful to the local environment. The company further explained that its plans for the new location included playgrounds and botanical gardens so that both tourists and locals can enjoy themselves. In addition, the outlet would have opened jobs for 50 to 80 people.