McDonald’s has filed a lawsuit against the Italian city of Florence after the fast-food chain was denied a license for a new restaurant in the historic central square.
The US company is seeking damages of almost $20m (about £16m). The fast-food giant had its plans for an outlet on the Piazza del Duomo rejected by Florence’s mayor in June.
The decision was upheld in July by a technical panel in charge of preserving the city’s ancient heart. But McDonald’s, which modified its proposals to fit with city guidelines, has now launched a bid for damages.
“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,”
Mayor Dario Nardella said, speaking to Florence’s City Council, adding that the move was part of a bid to support “traditional business.”
Mr. Nardella’s decision was upheld by a panel of conservationists who are in charge of preserving the city’s most historic areas.
But the company, which has more than 36,000 diners around the world and is worth $37billion, has not accepted his ruling and is now suing for 17.8 million euros.
When news broke that McDonald’s was planning on opening its tenth restaurant in the city, citizens sprung into action, with 24,000 Florentines signing a petition protesting the fast-food chain’s plans.
“We completely agree that the cultural and artistic heritage and the Italian historical town centres have to be protected and guaranteed, as well as the traditions and the historical small shops, but we cannot accept discriminatory regulations that damage the freedom of private initiative without being advantageous to anyone,”
-McDonald’s told the BBC in a statement.