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The original building dates to the 13th century but its present state is the result of major reworkings in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The balcony was built in 1635. The Renaissance windows were commissioned at various times by the magistrates recorded in the inscriptions.

In the room to the left under the loggia, in 1469, on the incentive of Fra Agostino of Perugia, a church-operated pawn shop, or Monte di Pietà (also: Monte della Misericordia), was instituted. The rise of these institutions was principally due to the preaching of S. Bernardino da Siena who, in his missions to the common folk, came down hard on vices of every kind, but especially on the vice of usury.



Many of these church-run pawn shops were created by him and his followers S. Bernardino da Feltre and S. Giacomo della Marca.

These institutions were strongly opposed by the Dominicans and Augustinians, who used to call them ironically «Montes Impietatis» since they made it permissible for Catholics to exercise a very dangerous calling. Our own Monte di Pietà in Trevi originally lent at 5% and then reduced the rate to 2%. The income was then used to provide dowries for poor but honest old maids. Municipal ordinances required notaries to suggest to those making their wills that they leave something to this charitable institution. The Monti di Pietà were suppressed in 1862 and taken over by the Congregazione di Carità after the Piemontese occupation.


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Alberto Barbini 1989-2008 - Translated by Bill Thayer ©2010

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Aggiornamento: 27 aprile 2017.