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Fast-food giant McDonald’s is suing the Italian city of Florence for €18 million after it was blocked from opening a restaurant on one of its most historic plazas.

McDonald’s had its plans for an outlet on the Piazza del Duomo rejected by Florence’s mayor in June.

The decision was upheld in July by a technical panel in charge of preserving the city’s ancient heart.

McDonald’s, which modified its proposals to fit with city guidelines, has now launched a bid for damages.McDonald's investigated for alleged employee burns

It is claiming it has been discriminated against, and wants to recoup the €17.8 million ($19.7 million) it estimates it will lose over the next 18 years, according to Firenze Today.

McDonald’s argues it put forward a plan to “operate respectfully towards the local policies, even accepting to introduce typical local products in our offer, as requested from the local commerce regulation”.

However, Florence’s mayor Dario Nardella says they were not prejudiced in rejecting the bid to open a branch on the piazza, famous for its Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

He told the city council earlier this year: “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.”

This is the second high profile spat over an Italian location this year for McDonalds.

In October, it was reported that cardinals at the Vatican had been angered by plans to open a branch in a piazza next to Saint Peter’s Square.