The World’s Oldest Bank is in Italy

Not long ago, the husband and I were watching an Italian football match on TV between Siena and someone else. The game was being played in Siena, and all around the borders of the pitch there were those rotating billboard ads which would change every minute or so. I’m pretty good at ignoring advertising like that, so I hadn’t noticed what was on them – until my husband said, “What did that say?”

Thank goodness for our ability to rewind live television, because thanks to his keen eye paying attention to the advertising and not the game, we found an interesting cultural note which I wanted to share with you. One of the rotating ads around the stadium in Siena says this:




Monte dei Paschi di Siena: Banca dal 1472

Even if you don’t read Italian, you can probably come pretty close to guessing that what the ad is saying is that the bank of Monte dei Paschi in Siena has been around and serving the people of Siena since the year 1472. Yes, that’s 20 full years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Now, every part of the world has history, and every part of the world is interesting for one reason or another. All I could think of after seeing that, however, was how much I wanted to live in a town where I could say my money was being handled by a bank that’s been in existence since before Columbus even thought about sailing across the world and landing in America. And as I was checking with Wikipedia to see what else happened in 1472 (turns out – not much), I learned that Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is the world’s oldest surviving bank. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s hella cool.

Photo by: Erich Kesse

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