No McDonald’s at Baths of Caracalla

There’s are dozens of McDonald’s in Rome — the flagship in Piazza di Spagna next to the Spanish Steps, one near the Fountain of Trevi, another at the Termini station, etc. — and there’s one a dozen miles south of the Eternal City that straddles an archaeological museum displaying a perfectly preserved stretch of Roman road. That last one only happened because the road was discovered during construction of the new location and McDonald’s paid to excavate, conserve and display the archaeological remains underneath its restaurant.

What it won’t get to do, however, is build a new Double Arches adjacent the soaring majesty of the actual arches of the Baths of Caracalla. The crazy thing is that it almost did.  Municipal authorities approved plans to build a huge 8,600-square-foot McDonald’s that would have seated 250 people, had a drive-through, a bouncy house and a big parking lot. Construction had even begun. That’s how residents found out about this plan and began to raise a huge stink, complete with on-site protests and vigils that got tons of press.

Finally, Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli announced on Facebook on Wednesday that the ministry had canceled the authorization for construction.  How it got to the point where the state authorities had to reverse the municipality’s approval is a mystery. Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi says she knew nothing about it until she read about the protests in the paper and that she supported the Bonisoli’s decision. “The wonders of Rome must be protected,” she wrote on Twitter (to much derision in comments from Romans sick to death of the garbage that is choking the city this hot summer).

There will be an inquiry of dubious efficacy to figure out how this debacle went down, and there’s still a chance McD’s will take them to court to get to build on a UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site as planned. It wouldn’t be the first time. For now, at least, the Baths of Caracalla will be reserved for summer operas and McFlurry-free tourists.


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Comment by Jim
2019-08-06 15:17:30

Mama mia! Looking for information on those gorgeous pine trees, I learn that “The Pines of Rome” is a pizza place in Bethesda Maryland.
I’m hungry.

Comment by Albertus Minimus
2019-08-06 17:14:10

McDonald’s attempt to build their restaurant next to the Baths is akin to them cheekily seeking to build one next to, say the Lincoln Memorial in DC. What a Kroc! If they persist in this, a boycott would be in order. In any case, why would anyone possessing even a minimum gastronomic standard pick McD’s food with all that good Roman cuisine beckoning? Truth is, there is a lot of bad taste in evidence out there.

Comment by John Cooper, the last of the real-name commenters
2019-08-06 19:23:02

When I was first in Rome in 1986, I went to the Spanish Steps McDonald’s, partly due to perverse curiosity–was this the McDonald’s Keats ate at just before he died?–and partly due to impecuniousness. I have to say that to this day it’s the nicest McDonald’s that I’ve ever been in.

Comment by George M.
2019-08-06 19:56:21

All this said, there were probably the ancient Roman equivalents of McD’s around and in the baths when they were in use. I suspect that ancient Roman street food was probably tastier although with sketchier health and safety regulations than McD’s menu.

Comment by Sacco di Roma, not in Rome at all
2019-08-07 00:21:44

CAVE CARNEM! –Frankly, I had not even thought of all the inconvenient plastic waste, all the odour and putref(r)ied freedom friesslowly stinking away in the Eternal City’s baking summer heat .

Don’t mess with Caracalla! ..Instead, render unto the Kaesar the things that are Kaesar’s …ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι!


“The popina (plural: popinae) was an ancient Roman wine bar, where a limited menu of simple foods (olives, bread, stews) and selection of wines of varying quality were available. The popina was a place for plebeians of the lower classes of Roman society (slaves, freedmen, foreigners) to socialize and in Roman literature they were frequently associated with illegal and immoral behaviour.”

Comment by Fred Z
2019-08-08 01:02:39

On what possible planet is it crazy to build McDonalds here?

Only a crazed leftist arsehole would write such a thing.

The respect I had for this blog is gone, pfft evaporated into shite.

Comment by TS Royale
2019-08-08 02:27:47

Fred, mind your words, and maybe show at least some basic respect to your own language.

In all fairness, I could indeed not think of a planet or point of view, in which ‘McDonalds’ would make any sense at all, i.e. as far as food is concerned.


Comment by Trevor
2019-08-13 06:47:58

Right said Fredek Zolotev…

(ah, the pun was irresistible)

In a world where everything becomes a tourist destination available to an ever-widening group of people, feeding them in any way becomes increasingly problematic, as well as evacuating the inevitable waste products.

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June 2022


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