Locals in Florence are waging a battle against fast food behemoth McDonald’s, which plans to open a restaurant in the historic Piazza del Duomo, the heart of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
More than 23,400 people have signed a Change.org petition since it launched a week ago, which calls the opening a slap in the face to Florentines, tourists and the local culture.
The restaurant is set to open in a former sports equipment store in the historic city center. But locals describe the new project as an affront to their culture, saying Big Macs have no place alongside the iconic 13th century cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore.
A march organized on Facebook for July 13 calls for Florentines to take to the streets bearing, not arms, but lampredottos, a popular local street snack of tripe-filled sandwiches to voice their displeasure.
Organizers call the lampredotto their symbol of protest and the anti-burger.
“The burger and yellow ‘M’ are the symbol of a particular type of culture: America and fast food,” reads a mission statement.
The rise against the arrival of McDonald’s comes not long after the city passed a new decree requiring new restaurants and food shops in the city center to source at least 50 percent of their products from Tuscany.
Florence will also be capping the number of kebab shops and convenience stores, mostly run by South Asian immigrants, opening in the city center, a move aimed at preserving local traditions and Florentine culture.
City officials deny that the strategy has any racist overtones. McDonald’s is the latest US fast food brand to make headlines for its presence in Italy. Starbucks expects to open its first coffee shop in Milan Italy by early next year, while Domino’s opened their first pizza restaurant in Milan last year.