McDonald's is at it again. After plans for the construction of a McDrive inside the archeological area of Rome’s Bath of Caracalla were halted a few weeks ago, the fast food company now has its eye on another highly historical area of the Italian capital.
A new branch of McDonald’s was set to open next to the Pantheon, in Piazza della Rotonda, until the Superintendent of Rome Archeology, Fine Arts and Cityscape canceled last week a previous authorization to replace an old chimney with a visually impacting steel flue in what is one of the most beautiful areas of Rome.
The steel chimney appeared a few weeks ago on the roof of a building facing the Pantheon.
A local neighborhood association, the Associazione Abitanti Centro Storico di Roma, had already objected to the planned opening by writing a letter to Italy's culture minister. Residents protested and highlighted how the steel chimney ruined the skyline, especially of the cupola by Borromini of the Church of Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza.
The measure by the superintendent temporarily halts construction plans because, without the flue, the kitchen of the fast food restaurant would not be able to dispose of its fumes.
The new McDonald’s would occupy the former premises of a bank and gelato parlor, occupying 300 square meters. Another issue currently encountered by McDonald's relates to the license it purchased from the gelato parlor: the license is valid for a 34-square-meter space, but it would be used for a place with much larger spaces.
The Superintendent has asked McDonald’s to provide within 30 days the documentation certifying that the flue would comply with required laws.
The Pantheon is a former Roman temple commissioned by Marcus Agrippa during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD) and completed by the emperor Hadrian. It is now a church. It is one of the best preserved ancient Roman buildings, and is visited annually by seven millions tourists.