Florence not lovin’ idea of McDonald’s in historic centre

Florence's Piazza del Duomo is one of the most visited squares in Europe, famed for its Renaissance architecture and impressive cathedral. And a plan to add the McDonald's golden arches to the skyline has not gone down well with locals.

Florence not lovin' idea of McDonald's in historic centre
Photo: Richard Allaway/Flickr

Over 12,000 people have joined a Facebook campaign to stop the fast food chain opening up in the historic area, and mayor Dario Nardella has also spoken out to condemn the plan.

The growing Facebook group has shared an edited photo of the iconic David statue depicting him as overweight – highlighting their view that the restaurant would threaten the city's cultural heritage – and invited supporters to gather in the square on Sunday for a 'flash mob'. Over 2,000 people have signed a petition which will be presented to the mayor.

The owners of the page said they wanted to make their point “peacefully and with irony, because we are Florentines”.

The city's mayor, Nardella, wrote on Facebook: “To be clear, I am against the opening of a McDonald’s in the piazza del Duomo. It doesn’t agree with the battle which we have fought for years against fast food and mini markets for the protection of the city’s traditions and identity… We will do all that we can to avoid this.”

The fast food chain already has several restaurants in the city, with three others in the city centre just a short walk from the square, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

McDonald's – along with other foreign fast food chains – has had a problematic history in Italy. Its first restaurant opened up near the Spanish steps in Rome 30 years ago, sparking protests. Fashion brand Valentino, which has its Rome headquarters nearby, complained about the smells and noise from the restaurant, and the opening also sparked the now global Slow Food movement.

In 2013, the mayor of a Tuscan town complained about the use of images of its rolling hills in a McDonald's advert to promote a new burger. The recent arrival of Domino's and Starbucks in a country that takes pizza and coffee very seriously has also provoked controversy.

And Florence has taken the struggle to protect its culinary history particularly strongly. In March, the city passed a law aimed at ensuring that at least 70 percent of produce in all new eateries was locally sourced, amid worries that a growing number of cheap kebab shops and other fast food outlets aimed at tourists meant the city was at risk of losing its character.

READ MORE: How Florence is coping with it's 'foreign food clampdown'


La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you’ll find in Italy

From Italian podcasts to surprising delicacies and our favourite overlooked travel destinations, new weekly newsletter La Bella Vita offers you an essential starting point for eating, talking, drinking and living like an Italian.

La Bella Vita: The best Italian-language podcasts, and unexpected foods you'll find in Italy

La Bella Vita is our regular look at the real culture of Italy – from language to cuisine, manners to art. This new newsletter will be published weekly and you can receive it directly to your inbox, by going to newsletter preferences in ‘My Account’ or follow the instructions in the newsletter box below.

A cornerstone of Italian culture, the tabaccheria is used for much more than just buying cigarettes. In fact, these little shops are pretty central to everyday life and anyone who moves to or just spends time in Italy will need to become as familiar with them as they are with the local coffee bar.

From paying bills to purchasing bus tickets, here are just some of the services you should know about and a few tips for your first visit.

Why the tabaccheria is essential to life in Italy – even if you don’t smoke

For Italian language learners: listening to podcasts is a great way to immerse yourself in a new language. Luckily there’s a vast range of audio shows for people wanting to learn Italian, whether you’re studying at an advanced level or learning from scratch. Here we’ve selected a few of our favourites, plus readers’ suggestions:

Some of the best podcasts for learners of Italian

Italy is known worldwide for pizza and gelato, but Italian cuisine is incredibly diverse and visitors are often surprised by some of the local delicacies on offer. I know rustic Tuscan cuisine didn’t exactly match my expectations when I first arrived in Italy. I quickly learned to love it – but my mother-in-law’s homemade chocolate cake made with pig’s blood (sanguinaccio is a delicacy in Puglia…) was a step too far!

So, from fried brains and tripe to suggestive desserts that you definitely wouldn’t expect the local priest to approve of, here’s a look at some more of the traditional foods loved by Italians – but not always by foreigners.

From fried brains to ‘sexy’ cakes: The Italian foods you might not expect in Italy

Visitors can find more than they bargained for at a traditional Italian food market. (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP)

As regular visitors know, there’s much more to Italy than just the glamour of Rome, Venice or Florence, but some destinations suffer – we think unfairly – from negative reputations. From Caserta to Reggio Calabria and beyond, here are some of the overlooked Italian towns that are home to incredible sights that everyone should see at least once.

Nine overlooked Italian towns you should visit

If you’re planning a visit to Italy (or to another part of Europe from Italy) this year but want to cut down your carbon footprint, train travel is a great option and there are more routes than ever connecting Italy’s major cities to other parts of the continent.

Here are some of the main direct international train services you can use for travel between Italy and other European countries this year.

The train routes connecting Italy to the rest of Europe in 2023

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Is there an aspect of the Italian way of life you’d like to see us write more about on The Local? Please email me at [email protected]