VATICANO ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Holy Big Mac – “Le McMerda, le McSpazzatura, e le patatine fritte di morte” – Vatican’s first McDonald’s – Fast-food franchise opens on Borgo Pio, just steps away from St Peter’s, THE GUARDIAN (03/01/2017) & (16/01/2017).

ROME – McDonald’shas opened a franchise just steps away from the gleaming white marble dome of St Peter’s Basilica, giving indigestion to some cardinals and local business owners.

There was no fanfare for the 30 December opening of the US fast-food firm’s new venue behind a subdued exterior on the picturesque Borgo Pio, just outside the spiritual home of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

When the plan emerged last year, one of its most strident critics was Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, who said McDonald’s fare was far removed from Roman gastronomic traditions and not the healthiest of foods.

“The mega sandwich shop on Borgo Pio is a disgrace,” Sgreccia told La Repubblica newspaper at the time.

“It would be better to use those spaces to help the needy of the area, spaces for hospitality, shelter and help for those who suffer, as the Holy Father teaches,” Sgreccia said.

Despite the holy outrage in some quarters, two nuns were spotted on Tuesday lunchtime going inside the branch.

In a statement, McDonald’s emphasised that the new restaurant was in a popular tourist area outside the Vatican, although the building itself is Holy See property.

“As is the case whenever McDonald’s operates near historic sites anywhere in Italy, this restaurant has been fully adapted with respect to the historical environment,” the company said.

Some local business owners had written to Pope Francis to ask him to keep the chain out, for fear it would upset the artistic, culture and social identity of the neighbourhood.

In the letter, consumer group Codacons and a committee set up to protect Borgo Pio said the area, full of restaurants and shops selling religious articles, was already “saturated” and bringing in more tourists could be a security risk.

But some people who frequent the area welcomed the new arrival, including Raffaella Scarano, an Italian woman who works nearby.

“Anything that is good for the economy of our country is fine by me,” she said.

Cities across Italy have been turning up the heat on fast-food restaurants. McDonald’s filed a $20m (£16m) lawsuit against Florence after the mayor of the Renaissance city turned down an application to open one of its restaurants there.


— THE GUARDIAN (03/01/2017).



VATICANO ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: Holy Big Mac – “Le McMerda, le McSpazzatura, e le patatine fritte di morte” – McDonald’s accused of exploiting homeless people in Rome in cynical PR strategy after Vatican restaurant opening. THE GUARDIAN (16/01/2017).

McDonald’s has been accused of exploiting homeless people in Rome as part of a public relations strategy to gain favour with locals following the controversial opening of a restaurant within steps of the Vatican.

A community group called Safeguard the Borgo said a recent initiative by McDonald’s to pledge 1,000 meals to the homeless was nothing but a “commercial transaction which cynically uses the homeless and offends many years and daily work [done by others] to help alleviate extreme poverty”.

The US fast-food chain revealed the initiative after a handful of cardinals, as well as the Borgo group, complained last year that opening a McDonald’s so close to St Peter’s Square would further degrade and commercialise the Unesco-protected neighbourhood.

The restaurant opened on 30 December and Monday marked the first day of dozens of McDonald’s meals being reportedly donated to a charity that distributed them at a local walk-in clinic.

The meal consisted of a double cheeseburger, an apple and water, according to Reuters.

Pierfrancesco Spiga, 46, an unemployed and homeless Rome native, told the news agency that other companies should follow the example of McDonald’s.

“It would be good if these multinational companies gave food at the end of the day to poor people who don’t have any, instead of throwing it away,” Spiga said.

But the Borgo group said it was more important to recognise the work of groups such as the Catholic charity Caritas and other residents of the neighbourhood that were working systematically to help homeless people survive.

“For how long will the show of the ‘free drink’ go on, in what ways will it be given, and how long will the homeless be allowed to use the location and bathrooms of the fast-food restaurant [before they are treated] like the plague,” the community organisation said in a statement.

It added: “Why doesn’t McDonald’s distribute its food waste to the homeless every day?”

According to Reuters, the move to give meals away was initiated after the director of a charity, Medicina Solidale, wrote to McDonald’s in the wake of the criticism over the restaurant opening. The initiative involves 1,000 meals being given away over the next six months, which the Medicina Solidale said would not resolve hunger, but could help.

McDonald’s declined to comment directly. But in an email the company sent the Guardian a comment from the director of Medicina Solidale in which the charity said it was satisfied with its close partnership with the fast-food group.

“The offer of meals let us make a step forward, giving to the women and men living on the street in the neighbourhood the chance of a balanced meal, with an adequate supply of proteins and vitamins,” said Lucia Ercoli, director of Medicina Solidale.

Reuters said 50 lunches were served on Monday.

Pope Francis has been a strong advocate for the homeless in Rome. On his 80th birthday last month, he sat down to breakfast with eight homeless people before celebrating mass. He has also spoken at a recent mass of the need to end the exclusion of people in need, a fact he underlined by giving the homeless the seats in St Peter’s Basilica usually reserved for VIPs.


— THE GUARDIAN (03/01/2017).



— FIRENZE ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: “NOT LOVIN IT’ – Unhappy Meal: McDonald’s Battles to Bring Golden Arches to Heart of Florence Fast-food giant launches $20-million lawsuit after Italian city says no! The WSJ 04 November (2016).

FIRENZE ARCHEOLOGIA e RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: "NOT LOVIN IT' - Unhappy Meal: McDonald’s Battles to Bring Golden Arches to Heart of Florence Fast-food giant launches $20-million lawsuit after Italian city says no! The WSJ  04 November (2016).

— ROMA ARCHEOLOGICA & RESTAURO ARCHITETTURA: L’INCHIESTA – Il Comune non ama l’archeologia. La spesa per i nomadi è il doppio. Non più di 15 milioni per i siti culturali. I campi rom ne costano 24, IL TEMPO & CORRIERE DELLA SERA (30|04|2015), & ARTRIBUNE (29|04|2015).