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The ruins of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy. Source: scaliger / Adobe Stock

McDonald’s Banned from Building Fast Food Chain at Rome’s Baths of Caracalla

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The Baths of Caracalla were built from 212 to 216 AD during the rule of Emperor Caracalla, formally known as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, who reigned between 198 to 217 AD. This enormous and iconic Roman structure was at one time ablaze with luxury marbles, mosaics, and sculptures, and historians estimate that between 6,000 and 8,000 people bathed there every day.

According to The Times, Italy’s highest administrative court has just barred McDonald’s fast food chain from constructing an unsightly 10,000 sq. meter restaurant at the Baths of Caracalla. The restaurant chain wanted to repurpose land adjacent to the baths for a new drive-through restaurant with a dedicated parking area. On December 28 the council of state’s ruling upheld the verdict of a lower court, blocking the fast food chain's plans.

The baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy. (Fred /Adobe Stock)

The baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy. (Fred /Adobe Stock)

Who Saved the Baths of Caracalla?

In 2018 the restaurant plans were reviewed by the ministry of culture and the city council, and they were passed and greenlit. McDonald’s were already building their drive-through and car park beside the ancient baths when in 2019 Rome’s ex-mayor, Virginia Raggi, suspended the project after a media outcry across Italy.

The bold construction plans were ultimately rejected because the site included Caffarella Park, Appian Way, and Roman aqueducts: all UNESCO-protected historic sites. Italian authorities also assured that any future attempts to develop in the Lazio region can be blocked. Italia Nostra, a heritage protection organization, said in a statement that these new controls are ‘extremely important for the future protection of our cultural and archaeological patrimony.’

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Milan) McDonald's. (Pilise Gábor/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II (Milan) McDonald's. (Pilise Gábor/CC BY-SA 3.0)

About Turn Everyone, The Major is Peeved

The ministry of culture and the city council did a quick about turn when Mayor Raggi slapped the table. Now, the two institutions are leading the fight against the very development they had only a year before given the go-ahead. The Art Newspaper contacted MacDonald’s for a statement about the suspension of their building plans prior to the council of state’s hearing on December 21. They responded saying that “Whenever [we] operate near historic sites in Italy or around the world, our aim is to respectfully adapt to the local environment.”

Big business empires like MacDonald’s are like that Whack-a-Mole game. Just because these plans in Rome fell through, the group's new chief executive in Italy, Dario Baroni, says the fast food chain will open 200 new restaurants in Italy by 2025. This is on top of the 600 restaurants they already have in that country.

Such a Caring Global Giant. No?

This story comes only a week after McDonald’s China were featured in The Independant after installing ‘bikes’ in two of their restaurants. A TikToK video was watched over 33 million times showing diners on what looked like exercise bikes, as they packed in burgers and fries, washing the carb and calorie loads down with sugary soft drinks. On Wednesday (December22), the fast-food chain issued a statement explaining: “The Green Charging Bike is an in-restaurant experience, currently being tested at two locations in China, that is designed to inspire more green behaviours as customers enjoy their McDonald’s favourites.”

While it at first glance appears guilty - Chinese diners are working off fat as they consume it - the Green Bike generates electricity to power users' mobile phones. This is the latest part in McDonald’s China’s ‘Upcycle for Good’ project,” which they claim is an initiative focused on ‘creating products with plastic parts from recycled materials.’

A McDonald’s restaurant beside a temple in Xi’an, China. (Harald Groven/CC BY-SA 2.0)

A McDonald’s restaurant beside a temple in Xi’an, China. (Harald Groven/CC BY-SA 2.0)

There we have it, McDonald’s are caring about the world, as they inject excessive sodium, fatty acids, and sugars into the human food chain, leading to obesity and high blood pressure.

Top Image: The ruins of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, Italy. Source: scaliger / Adobe Stock

By Ashley Cowie



riparianfrstlvr's picture

good i’m glad, no fast food wrappers cluttering up over there.


ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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