A street clock and a McCafe sign


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Courts in Italy have made a big decision, and we're guessing McDonald's isn't lovin' it:  The fast-food chain has been barred from building a restaurant next to important Roman ruins.

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The recent ruling from Italy's highest court backs up a lower court's previous decision to disallow McDonald's from building directly next to the ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla, part of Rome's historic center and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruling cited the "importance of protecting cultural heritage" as the main reason for the ban, and it sets an important precedent for similar rulings near heritage sites in the future. 

Ruins of ancient Roman Baths of Caracalla, a thermal complex next to Circo Massimo in Rome, Italy, seen from the FAO building terracePhoto credit: Em Campos/istockphoto

The planned 250-seat McDonald's was originally approved by the city, and the company had started construction on the site, which would have included a parking lot and drive-thru. But public outcry forced city officials to revoke permission a few months after granting it, leaving McDonald's to take its battle to court. 

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This isn't the first time McDonald's has stirred controversy in Rome. In 2017, the burger giant ran afoul of some Catholic officials when it opened a location just around the corner from St. Peter's Square in a building owned by the Vatican that even houses "a number of cardinals," according to The Washington Post. 

It also isn't the first time that McDonald's has tried to build on or near important Roman ruins. In fact, there's one location where you can actually visit an ancient Roman road under the restaurant, and McDonald's sponsored the archaeological dig that made it possible. It begs the question: Would you like fries with your history lesson?

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