Over objections from senior Roman Catholic leaders as well as some residents in the area, McDonald’s opened a location last week just outside the limits of Vatican City, but within view of St. Peter’s Square.
The hamburger chain’s plan of opening one of its restaurants in a building owned by the Vatican received negative feedback when McDonald’s announced it during October.
The restaurant in question is at the corner of Via del Mascherino and Borgo Pio, which is part of the Roman district known as Borgo. That leads into Vatican City.
One European daily said that the Committee for Protecting Borgo, a group of area residents, called the approval of the restaurant a decisive blow to an animal already wounded, which was a reference to the vendors who already proliferate the area.
Last October during an interview in a local newspaper in Rome, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia said the arrival of McDonald’s was a disgrace and the space should have been used for something that would have helped the needy.
The Cardinal added that the restaurant clashed with the area’s aesthetics and lacked respect for the urban and architectural traditions of the squares that overlook the colonnade of St. Peter.
The Cardinal added that the food at McDonald’s did not offer health guarantees for the consumer and were foods he would never eat. The Cardinal recently retired as the Pontifical Academy for Life president.
The Cardinal concluded his criticism of the McDonald’s restaurant by saying it ignored culinary traditions of Roman cuisine.
Despite many complaints, the agency in the Vatican that oversees real estate holding of the Vatican approved McDonald’s lease and very quietly, the restaurant opened for business a week ago without any public protests.
The Vatican is receiving €30,000 or approximately $31,375 each month for rent, said a local newspaper. Officials at the Vatican also gave approval to a Hard Rock Café on the main boulevard that leads to St. Peter’s. It will replace a bookstore that sold religious books.
This is not the first time that a McDonald’s location had difficulty when entering a venerable location. The burger chain sued Florence, Italy in November for $20 million after city leaders blocked its efforts to open a restaurant in the popular tourist area of Piazza del Duomo.
The mayor of Florence Dario Nardella says he wanted to support the area’s traditional business.