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McDonald's Wants to Open Near a 15th Century Cathedral in Italy

16,000 locals have signed a petition to fight it

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The Florence Cathedral
The Florence Cathedral
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

McDonald's has more than 36,000 locations worldwide, with more being added all the time — but do Big Macs belong within spitting distance of a cherished, centuries-old cathedral? Such is the debate currently swirling in Florence, Italy. As the Telegraph reports, the fast food behemoth is planning to open a new store in the historic city center's Piazza del Duomo, and many locals — including the mayor — aren't too happy.

It's no wonder McDonald's wants to open a restaurant there, as the bustling square is one of Florence's busiest tourist destinations. But said location would put it within a few hundred yards of the Florence Cathedral, a stunning work of architecture that was constructed in the 15th century and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

More than 16,000 citizens have signed a Facebook petition to stop McDonald's from slinging McNuggets near the cathedral, but the company seems undeterred: "We’ll do everything we can to have a restaurant by the Duomo," McDonald's Italia CEO Roberto Masi tells La Repubblica. "We will consider legal avenues if we can’t reach an agreement."

The company also claims "it had tacit agreement from the mayor of Florence to go ahead with the burger joint and cannot understand why he has now declared himself to be against the project," says the Telegraph.

The city of Florence recently passed a decree to cut down on its number of modern convenience stores and takeout restaurants in an effort to maintain the city's cultural identity; many of said businesses are run by immigrants, eliciting cries of racism from opponents. Restaurants in the city center are now required to source the majority of their products locally, a measure that McDonald's said it would honor.

UPDATE 6/30 2:18 p.m.: Reached for comment, a McDonald's spokesperson issued the following statement: "McDonald’s has applied to open a restaurant in the centre of Florence. We have assured representatives of the Florence Municipality that the restaurant will be adapted to respect the local environment, as is the case where we operate at other historic sites in Italy which are very popular with our customers. We will continue to engage with the Municipality and to listen to the views of the local community."

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