To be honest, when my husband and I read about FaceBook founder Mark Zuckerberg taking his newlywed bride to McDonald’s during their honeymoon in Rome, we were not impressed.
Why, oh why would anyone with a net worth of 35.1 billion opt for a McDonald’s coffee when there were a handful of cafes within arm’s length that were serving genuine espresso? Even myself, with a significantly lower net worth, am gladly willing to spend the five euros it takes to indulge in Italy’s finest ambrosia instead of coffee that I can easily get at home. Further, who would choose a cheeseburger over authentic Italian cuisine?
We had come across a McDonald’s during a trip to Rome in 2008. It was immediately opposite to the world’s oldest church, the Pantheon in the Piazza Della Rotunda. We had no desire whatsoever to venture in for a snack when we had sidewalk cafes at every turn.
After reading the article, I concluded that it would be highly unlikely that I would ever find myself at a MacDonald’s in Italy.
Well, as fate would have it, during our next trip to Rome, not only did I eat at MacDonald’s, I was also very grateful that I had the opportunity to do so.
It was a cold and rainy day that made us walk through a McDonald’s door next to the Spanish Steps during our visit to Rome in December 2012. Who would have thought that they would build a McDonald’s in one of the most prestigious shopping districts in the world?
Earlier that day, our taxi dropped us off at Piazza del Popolo at about 10:00 a.m. It never stopped raining. After about an hour we were drenched. That’s when my husband spotted the Golden Arches and suggested we warm up and get dry while having something to drink before continuing on our schedule.
Since it was only just past 11:30 a.m., we didn’t have an appetite for lunch. All we wanted was a warm, dry place to sit, collect our thoughts and regroup. Why spend sixty euros on a meal when you only need a drink and a quick bite?
Once we entered the establishment, we were pleasantly surprised at the restaurant’s chic textured interior of white, grey and ecru. It was huge. Had it not been for the lit up display menus, I would have never thought I was inside a McDonald’s. My daughter and I sat down at what looked like a marble table, and tried to take in the trendy atmosphere.
After a few moments my husband sat down with cokes and some fries.
The fries were incredible. They were hot, perfectly fried, and with no oily aftertaste. Even the salt was perfectly meted out.
The fries disappeared one by one as we poured over our collection of city maps trying to figure out how to continue on without getting drenched in the rain.
By the time we were ready to leave, we were warm, a little drier, energized and in better spirits.
The object lesson for me here was the importance of being open to situations as they present themselves.
Thanks to a very rainy day, I learned that all McDonald’s are not the same. Further, even though I had no desire to visit an American fast food chain in the heart of Rome, I learned that I can enjoy myself just about anywhere I find myself, as long as I make up my mind to do so.
My lesson learned in a golden nutshell:
Carpe Romanus Potatobus
Seize the fries.