Monte di Pietá

June 23, 2014 / Local Interest
Rome, Lazio

It’s notoriously difficult to find an ATM in Rome that’s working, accepts your credit card, etc. Short of cash for the day?

Head to the Monte di Pietá. It’s not a big mass of land, as in Monte Bianco, nor a small mass of land as in Montecitorio (where parliament is). Instead it describes a mass… of money.

This fund was put together in the 17th century by a group of wealthy folks in order to offer interest-free loans (remember, back then usury = sin) to those in need. One deposited goods, hopefully temporarily, as collateral against the loan… in so many words, a pawn service. Sure enough already back then Monte di Pietá was called Monte dei Pegni, or Pawn Hill.

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Swing by in the daytime to look at or bid on the lots of gold jewelry, silver tableware, furs, and assorted artwork exhibited in the display cases and going to auction.

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Feeling daring? Drop your watch off in exchange for cash to pay for lunch, and then go back and pick it up the next day.

You’ll neither be the first nor the last to have done so at this old yet still very active Roman institution.

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GB

by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

5 Responses to “Monte di Pietá”

  1. Pat Carney Ceccarelli
    Pat Carney Ceccarelli

    Hidden Rome! Once again many thanks to our Editor, GB!

    Reply
  2. Let’s not forget the unfortunate origins of the Monte di Pietà. It was started by the Franciscan order in the mid-1400s, as a way to put Jewish loan-banks out of business. At that time, the Franciscan order had spawned a batch of virulently anti-Semitic preachers whose sermons attacking Jewish bankers often led to outbreaks of violence against the Jewish communities of various Italian towns.
    Ironic– since in that era loaning money at interest was one of the few professions Jews were allowed to practice!

    Reply
  3. Virginia C. Mars

    More fascinating bits of history and places. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Gisele Denton

    I would like to purchase a copy of the milanese murder mystery but Amazon only offer it on Kindle.
    Where else can I buy one? Second request.

    Reply

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