McDonald's sues Italian city for $20m after being burger-blocked

Mayor says Big Mac with fries is not traditional Tuscany fare

McDonald's is suing the city of Florence for $20m after its left-wing mayor rejected Maccy D's application to open a burger joint on the historic Piazza del Duomo.

The claim for damages was filed after McDonald's was said to have promised to make lots of changes to its business model to placate angry locals.

Florence's mayor, Dario Nardella, turned down McDonald's application in June, and the decision was confirmed the following month by a technical panel in charge of preserving the city's ancient heart, according to Agence France-Presse.

"We don't have any prejudice," against McDonald's, Nardella told the news agency, adding: "McDonald's has the right to submit an application because this is permitted under the law, but we also have the right to say no."

Florence, home of Giotto and Michelangelo, has found itself inundated with backpackers and fast-food outlets catering for them. Thus the city passed new regulations in January ordering local food businesses to use "typical products" from the Tuscany region, instead of whatever mysterious substances go into making your kids’ Happy Meals.

The yellow-arched restaurant chain also enraged the Catholic church after revealing plans to open an outlet next to St Peter's Square in Rome.

Those plans were "by no means respectful of the architectural traditions of one of the most characteristic squares which look on to the colonnade of Saint Peters", a furious Cardinal Elio Sgreccia is quoted as saying in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. ®

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