Italy bars McDonald's amidst monuments of ancient Rome

ROME, July 31 (Reuters) - Italy's Culture ministry on Wednesday barred the construction of a McDonald's fast-food restaurant next to the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome, with Mayor Virginia Raggi saying "the wonders of Rome must be protected."

Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli announced his decision in a Facebook post after the municipal administration loudly protested against the notion of serving burgers in the archaeological zone that hosts the 3rd century A.D. baths.

""We go forward with the culture minister to stop fast food construction in the archaeological area of the Baths of Caracalla. The wonders of Rome must be protected, Raggi wrote on Twitter after Bonisoli's announcement.

McDonald's did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

McDonald's has more than 40 outlets in the Italian capital, some of them in the vicinity of landmarks such as the Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps) and the Vatican, but not hitherto in the midst of its revered ancient quarter.

In 1986, intellectuals and television personalities fought, ultimately in vain, against the opening of the first McDonald's in the Piazza di Spagna, calling it an offense to Italy's traditional food culture.

In the case of the Baths of Caracalla, Italian media said the McDonald's outlet was expected to cover 800 square meters (8,611 square feet), in an area where new construction must meet strict criteria to reflect historical tradition.

The former garden center that would have hosted the new McDonald's is located between the baths and the ancient Aurelian walls, a few hundred meters (yards) away from the Coliseum and the Circus Maximus.

According to website statista.com, Italy last year had the fourth highest number of McDonald's restaurants in the European Union with 578, behind only Germany, France and Britain. (Reporting by Angelo Amante Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Baths of Caracalla
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Baths of Caracalla
Rome, Italy. Baths of Caracalla, ancient ruins of roman public thermae built by Emperor Caracalla, between 212 and 216AD.
Ruins of the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla) Italy, Rome
Thermae of Caracalla, Rome, Italy
Rome, Italy - September 1, 2017: Ruins of the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla), one of the most important baths of Rome at the time of the Roman Empire.
The Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla) in Rome, Italy were Roman public baths, or thermae, built in Rome between AD 212 and 216, during the reign of the Emperor Caracalla.
Photo Taken In Italy, Roma
Rome, Italy - September 1, 2017: Ruins of the Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla), one of the most important baths of Rome at the time of the Roman Empire.
Baths Of Caracalla Against Clear Blue Sky
Baths of Caracalla, ancient ruins of roman public thermae built by Emperor Caracalla in Rome, Italy
Mosaic floor of Caracalla baths, majestic archaeological site in Rome, Italy
Baths of Caracalla (Terme di Caracalla) are ruins of a vast rectangular-shaped Roman thermal bath complex used from around 216 A.D. to 537 A.D. in Rome, Italy.
Baths Of Caracalla Against Sky
Baths of Caracalla ruins in Rome
Baths of Caracalla, Rome, Italy
Baths of Caracalla, ancient ruins of roman public thermae built by Emperor Caracalla in Rome, Italy
Patrón de piso de venecitas de las Termas de Caracalla, Roma
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