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The Original Drive Thru?

I came across this story from 2017 recently posted on Facebook. In summary, there is a McDonalds south of Rome that came across an ancient road and McDonalds paid for it to be incorporated into the construction.

What caught my further attention were so many negative comments posted on Facebook. Stuff like "corporate greed, desecrating a site", "they should have moved the building and left the ruins alone". In my opinion, typical Facebook drivel from people who want attention or didn't bother to read the article. To me this is a good blend of private/public partnership to fund and bring attention to historical treasures that may capture the interest of a broader audience. But I'm curious as to what the rest of you think?

Posted by
169 posts

Very interesting.

Not certain but - having the building above might actually protect the discovery more than building to the side and exposing to the environment (?)
Reminds me a bit of the glass floor in and outside of the Acropolis Museum. We enjoyed viewing the ruins from above - but then discovered one could go under the glass floor and walk through the recovered/uncovered street and buildings.

Posted by
467 posts

While I generally am opposed to the spread of places like McDonald's, this is impressive. I'm glad to see that viewing the road can be done without having to enter the restaurant. Good for them.

Posted by
5465 posts

corporate greed, desecrating a site, they should have moved the building and left the ruins alone

If they removed every building sitting on ruins or stopped building if ruins were present, Rome would cease to exist as a city. It is literally built on the ruins, layers and layers of ruins, of past buildings.

Posted by
1981 posts

I found another article about it from the Smithsonian and it mentions that if McDonald's hadn't stepped up then the road would have likely been documented and then reburied, never to be seen again. As was mentioned above, not every site discovered can be turned into something, but it's good to see cases like this.

Posted by
269 posts

In Italy I believe the 70% of times you start to dig for a building you find something archeological interesting. Interesting mainly to be studied and only sometimes to be exposed. So, if we should show everything found in the original position will be almost impossible build or restore. This happens everywhere in Italy.
Some examples from my area:
- in Modena there is a car seller with some late Roman empire graves in the middle of the show room, founded during restoration.
- in Modena 10 years ago during the construction of a new underground parking area found ruins and archeological things of the previously 2000 years. The roman road and graves has been moved at the ground level and rebuild as they were during the early Roman Empire. Some ruins too has been moved to the ground level, while all the other graves and skeletons has been moved to the museum to be studied. The pottery deposit is shown at the first underground floor. So a normal and commercial car parking lot has been build and the park over it became an archeological area: a win-win solution both for the owners and the citizens of Modena.
- in Bologna some years ago has been found the level of the ancient "Via Emilia". That one unfortunately cannot be exposed because under one of the main central street: after the studies has been covered again and last there for other 2200 years.
- in Bologna one of the roman road can be visited in the underground of the best hotel (in front of the bathroom! :-D ). Even the ruins of a theatre are under a commercial building.

A lot of ancient things found underground are very interesting for studies and to better know something about the ancient world, but few ones are so nice to be exposed in museums, even small local museums. So sometimes is better leave the things where they are and make that they became a little oddity/curiosity for other places.

Posted by
1981 posts

My first European adventure and my first and only time in Rome so far was in 2014 and I was amazed at how many ruins were just "lying around." I joked that I could have stuffed my suitcase full of it and nobody would miss it. We had a guided tour of the Forum and the guide said there is so much that nobody knows what to do with it. I wonder if we as tourists are more easily impressed than the average Italian or Greek citizen? I wonder if they would go to that McDonalds and wouldn't even glance at it? On a smaller and considerably younger scale at home, the City of Calgary made sure to preserve one street in downtown with the original facades from 100 years ago. It looks great, but nobody really notices it as part of our history. It's just there.

Posted by
1229 posts

Italy has an admirable tradition of companies adopting projects of civic betterment. As just one example, the Prada Group sponsored the restoration of Milan's Galleria and they are big supporters of FAI -The National Trust (for preservation). Often you can see the logos of corporate sponsors on the brochures of the landmarks you visit, and it's a tradition that goes back many decades.