Banca d’Italia (Pesaro Branch): recollecting hidden treasures on FAI Marathon Day

Mr Maurizio Grassini, Banca d’Italia Pesaro Branch Manager, and me

Today it’s FAI Marathon Day. FAI, Fondo Ambiente Italiano – usually referred to in English as ‘Italian National Trust’ – aims at promoting a culture of respect for Italy’s natural heritage, history, art and traditions. On FAI Days, Italians (and tourists of course!), have access to hidden and unknown treasures.

Today I would like to share with you the beautiful experience of entering the most impenetrable (at least to me!) building in Pesaro (Banca d’Italia – Pesaro Branch) and yet feeling so comfortable and welcome like when visiting a friend’s house.

Before publishing the pictures I took at Banca d’Italia, Pesaro Branch, on FAI Spring Days (March 22nd and 23rd) – referring to the exhibition devoted to the well-known ceramist Bruno Baratti and the exhibit on lire banknotes issued by Banca d’Italia until the introduction of euro – I would like to heartfelt thank the Manager of Banca d’Italia, Pesaro Branch, Mr Maurizio Grassini who allowed me to publish the following pictures and whom I had the pleasure to meet a couple of weeks ago in his office where he welcomed me with an exquisite and warm treatment.

I asked Mr Grassini a few questions – all of which he answered kindly – but if I should mention the strongest message he conveyed with his words and with his smile it would be no doubt his enthusiasm in opening the bank to citizens – with its hidden treasures – for the first time. Over 2.500 visitors in just two days made Pesaro Branch of Banca d’Italia the most visited site in the province of Pesaro and Urbino on FAI Spring Days.

Mr Grassini told me briefly the history of Pesaro Branch of Banca d’Italia which opened in 1864 in People Square (Piazza del Popolo) on the area occupied today by Sperimentale theatre (that’s right in front of Caffè Nero I wrote about in my post on Ca’ Pesaro 2.0 in July). The bank moved then to via Mazza (Mazza street) – i.e. the same street where the ‘Oliveriana Library and Museum’ have their seats (hosted by the beautiful 18th-century Palazzo Almerici) – before WWII destroyed the bank building. The bank was temporarily transferred to Urbino, inside the Ducal Palace, and – when WWII was over – was moved again to via Rossini (Rossini street) in a 19th century building (‘Bagni Pubblici’ – a health SPA resort). In 1960’s the old building was demolished and rebuilt following the project of architect Gaetano Minnucci. The new seat, enriched by 18 varieties of marble and by two mosaics by florentine artist Anna Romano Cernitori Carli, was inaugurated in 1967.

Mr Grassini shared with me a curious anecdote: Banca d’Italia did not recieve the authorization to rebuild Pesaro branch in Mazza street after WWII for ‘hygiene and security reasons’; as a matter of fact, needing the bank to dig deep under the street level in order to create the bank vault, the sewage system was running in the way! So Banca d’Italia exchanged its land in Mazza street with the SPA resort owned by the Municipality of Pesaro in Rossini street.

Mr Grassini, Banca d’Italia Pesaro Branch Manager since September 2013, told me that opening the bank to the public was a touching and memorable experience, even if the event – due to security reasons – was not easy to organize. Pesaro Branch of Banca d’Italia is also very active in promoting financial education with the Young (Mr Grassini often visits schools to teach, for instance, how to tell a real banknote from a fake; the bank even hosts groups of children to foster financial education).

The two exhibits I visited last March on FAI Spring Days unveiled hidden pieces of our art and history.

Mrs Giancarla Baratti, niece of the famous ceramist Bruno Baratti, together with Professor Anna Cerboni Baiardi, realized an anthology book on Baratti and on his most famous works (by the way Mr Grassini, who paints as a hobby, visited Baratti’s laboratory in Collenuccio square, about 50 meters away from the seat of the bank). Beautiful works by Baratti (b. in the neighbouring Cattolica in 1911 and d. in Pesaro in 2008) owned by the bank were displayed together with a video on the artist (following are a few pictures).

The second exhibition was extremely touching to me because looking at the ‘evolution’ of lire banknotes meant looking back to my life as well. I remember when my parents used to give me the 1000 lire banknote with Giuseppe Verdi on it as my weekly ‘paghetta’ (allowance). Or I still recollect that day when my mother went to the newstand (I was waiting for her in the parked car) and she came back with a 10.000 lire worth pile of stickers (was it Heidi? Maia Bee? Or the very Italian Pimpa? Sorry. my memory does not work that good but I remember it was quite a lot of stickers!).

Anyway, once again grazie to Mr Maurizio Grassini for allowing me to publish the following pictures, for opening up the Pesaro Branch of Banca d’Italia to the public for the first time and… for letting me exchange my ‘old’ 10 euro banknotes with the newly printed 10 euro banknote issued on Sept. 23rd!


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