The Colosseum. The Trevi Fountain. Saint Peter’s Basilica. McDonald’s?
Rome is known for its historic sites and beautiful art. Italy is, of course, known for its world renown cuisine...but is it known for its fast food? Nope. But that isn't stopping the world's most recognized food brand from opening an outpost right in Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City.
According to the Guardian, McDonald's is planning to build a new location just underneath an apartment complex where several cardinals live-- and within sight of St. Peter's Square. The proposal has angered many within the papal circle and local residents.
“It’s a controversial, perverse decision to say the least,” said Cardinal Elio Sgreccia in an interview with La Repubblica. Opening a branch of the popular fast-food chain, Sgreccia argued, 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.”
Sgreccia, who doesn’t actually live the affected apartment complex looking down on the restaurant, was speaking on behalf of the seven cardinals who do reside in the 5,800-square-foot site. One cardinal was so enraged that he even wrote a letter to Pope Francis urging an intervention into the commercial project.
“Instead of a Golden Arches near the heart of the Roman Catholic Church, the space should be used to house entities which help the needy, in line with the pope’s call for a ‘poor church for the poor,’” Sgreccia said.
Still, the uproar over the project, which is expected to put 30,000 euros (or $33,000) a month into the Vatican’s wallet, is unlikely to have an effect on the project moving forward.
Cardinal Domenix Calcagana heads the ASPA, the authority in charge of the Vatican’s real estate. He told La Repubblica that there are no plans to “back down” because the deal is legally valid. Calcagana: “I don’t see the scandal.”
It’s not the first time Ronald McDonald and crew has run into problems in Italy.
Earlier this year McDonald’s applied to build a site in the Piazza del Duomo. That proposal spurred an online uproar with thousands signing a Facebook petition to halt the project. And the International Slow Food Movement, protested the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps.