(by Dominique Rowe, Fortune) – McDonald’s is suing the Italian city of Florence for $20 million in damages after the fast-food giant was refused a licensing application in the shadow of the city’s famous cathedral, Il Duomo.
Florence’s center-left mayor initially turned down the application requesting approval for a new site in the historic Piazza Del Duomo in June, reports The Guardian, following changes to the city’s licensing laws earlier in 2016. A month later, a technical panel tasked with protecting the city’s historic heart doubled down on the decision.
“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.”
Florence is one of Europe’s most popular tourism destinations, and the Piazza Del Duomo, where McDonald’s was hoping to set up its golden arches, is its most visited tourist site. Meaning “Cathedral Square,” the Piazza contains several ancient buildings whose [origin] dates back a thousand years.
In January, Florentine city fathers introduced new licensing designed to protect historic sites, as well as keep authentic Tuscan goods and businesses at the heart of the historic square, fighting a recent reported proliferation of backpacker-focused businesses.
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 centers have to be protected,” said a statement released by the fast-food chain. “But we cannot accept discriminatory regulations that damage the freedom of private initiative without helping anyone.”
Speaking in The Wall Street Journal, Florence’s deputy head of tourism and economic development Giovanni Bettarini said, “It’s a not a blanket rejection of McDonald’s. It’s just a rejection of that specific project.”[This is the second high profile spat over an Italian location this year for McDonalds. Last month it was reported that cardinals at the Vatican (opposed) plans to open a branch in a piazza next to Saint Peter’s Square.]
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1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)
2. How many McDonalds restaurants currently operate in the city of Florence?
3. a) What is the Piazza Del Duomo?
b) For what reason has the city council turned down McDonald’s application to open a new restaurant at the Piazza Del Duomo?
4. What is the purpose of the new licensing laws the city council implemented in January?
5. a) Why is McDonald’s suing the city of Florence?
b) Do you agree with the company’s assertion? Explain your answer.
6. How did Florence’s deputy head of tourism explain the city’s rejection of McDonald’s application for that location?
7. You can understand the point of view of both sides: the city and McDonald’s. Which side do you think has the better argument? Explain your answer.