McDonald’s Sues City of Florence for $20 Million After Plans for a Restaurant Were Blocked

McDonald's wanted a location in Piazza del Duomo.

Santa Maria del Fiore. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Santa Maria del Fiore. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

American food giant McDonald’s is suing the city of Florence for turning down the company’s application for a new restaurant in the Piazza del Duomo at the city’s center for €18 million ($19.7 million).

The company had applied to open a new restaurant in the city’s most famous square and one of the most visited tourist sites in Europe. After Florence’s rejection of the application in order to preserve the city’s rich cultural atmosphere, McDonald’s announced legal action seeking compensation for loss of future earnings after having altered their proposal in an attempt to fit in with the city’s guidelines. The restaurant chain are claiming discrimination.

According to the BBC, the fast-food chain stated “We completely agree that the cultural and artistic heritage and the Italian historical town centers have to be protected and guaranteed, as well as the traditions and the historical small shops, but we cannot accept discriminatory regulations that damage the freedom of private initiative without being advantageous to anyone.”

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Home to the famous Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence’s 800-year-old cathedral, and widely recognized as the birthplace of the Renaissance period, the city was named in 1982 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its cultural and historic significance. Prestige brought by this status raises awareness among citizens and governing bodies to preserve the unique heritage of the city, and conserve its cultural richness.

The city mayor, Dario Nardello, said in a statement: “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.” Mr Nardello added, “we don’t have any prejudice” against McDonald’s, noting that the company already has restaurants opened elsewhere within the city.

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The decision to prevent the restaurant from opening so close to this historic location is significant in a climate of tourist-friendly venues and restaurants compromising what some see as the aesthetic value of other poignant locations around the world. For example, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt can be photographed from a branch of American restaurant chain, Pizza Hut.

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