Nestled between Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has attracted countless people and a host to a number of cultures. The Renaissance first took place in Italy and eventually expanded across Europe, sparking interest in exploration, art, science, and humanism, and opening the doors toward the European Age of Discovery. However, the country’s political and commercial influence dropped as new routes that bypassed the Mediterranean opened. Additionally, with the Italian wars during the 15th and 16 centuries, the country became politically unstable.
In the modern-day, Italy is one of the most economically advanced countries in the world. From 1861 until 2002, the country used the Italian lira for its internal commercial transactions. In 1874, the Consortium of Issuing Institutes was formed with six banks, namely, the Banca Nazionale nel Regno d’Italia, Banca Nazionale Toscana, Banco di Napoli, Banca Romana, Banca Toscana di Credito per le Industrie e il Commercio d’Italia, and Banco di Sicilia. The consortium issued fiat money designed by Dondorf & Naumann in Frankfurt, Germany, and printed by Officine Carte Valori that is headquartered in Rome. These notes are non-convertible to precious metals to conserve coins. These banknotes bear one or two portraits of Italy’s personification, Italia Turrita, wearing a crown of towers.
In 1881, the government assumed responsibility for the issuing of banknotes, making slight changes to the design. State notes were also issued by the Ministry of the Treasury, featuring allegorical figures. Allegorical figures have been present on the banknotes of Italy. Even on its 1962 -1981 issues that came with modern security elements and entirely new designs that highlight the country’s inventiveness, they reflect the head of Medusa as the Italian state symbol. It was only on the 1971- 1983 issues that the head of Medusa was replaced with the Maritime Republic seal which depicts the winged lion of St. Mark from the Dog’s Palace front exterior. In the 1970s, a new set of notes were released carrying portraits made by Italian artists. In the 1980s’, machine-readable banknotes with enhanced security features, such as solid security threads and watermarks, were issued.