McDonald’s has sued the Italian city of Florence for almost US$20 million in damages after the fast-food giant was denied a license to open a branch in the historic Piazza del Duomo.
City authorities rejected its application to open a branch in the square, citing new regulations that aim to protect the area from a proliferation of fast-food restaurants, The Independent newspaper reports.
According to the new regulations, restaurants in the area must use “typical products” from the city or the surrounding region of Tuscany, apparently excluding cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets, the newspaper said.
Mayor Dario Nardello turned down McDonald’s application in June and the decision was confirmed in October by a committee overseeing the city square, which is a famous tourist spot and home to the 800-year-old Duomo cathedral.
“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,” Nardello was quoted as saying.
He stressed that his government was not harboring any prejudice against McDonald’s, noting that the company is running restaurants in other parts of the city.
In fact, McDonald’s already has four branches within a five-minute walk of the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square).
But the company apparently finds it hard to accept the decision after it had promised to make major changes to its operations to meet the city’s regulations.
This is not the first time McDonald’s plans to open a branch in a historic location has angered local people, The Independent said.
Last month Catholic cardinals opposed a plan by the fast-food chain to open a restaurant next to Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican.
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