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The offices of Monte di Pietà di Ravenna


The offices of Monte di Pietà di Ravenna

historical archival research by Armando Antonelli

1. Notes on the palace of Monte di Pietà di Ravenna

Originally, the office of Monte della Pietà was located on the ground floor of a house built on two levels, on the second of which the building owners lived. Such spaces were sufficient to perform the function of custody of the pawns and reception of the public of the Monte di Pietà.

At the owner's passing, the palace was inherited by the Monte di Pietà, with usufruct clause for his wife as long as she was alive. With the death of Agnesia Aldrovandini, the upper floor of the building was occupied by the farmer of the Monte di Pietà.

Meanwhile, Agnesia Aldrovandini had assured the charitable institution of Ravenna with a testamentary bequest in the year 1501, which guaranteed full autonomy to the Monte di Pietà, with the clause that the building shouldn't in any way change the reason for use.

Certain is, that primitive settlement was necessarily modified over time to better respond to the needs of the city's charitable institution. Main stages of such institutional process and building modification are to be found between the sixth and seventh decade of the sixteenth century, when intense renovation and expansion of the rooms donated started, with the purchase of adjacent buildings facing Piazza Maggiore, bordering today's Chiesa del Suffragio, which was followed, in 1668, by a new legacy by Vincenza Martelli, which endowed the institution with assets bordering Chiesa del Buon Gesù.

At the end of the seventeenth century, it appears that the new and much wider site of Monte di Pietà di Ravenna was the result of a triple intervention:

  • - the Aldrovandini testamentary bequest;
  • - the purchase of some properties by the institution.
  • - the Martelli donation.

In 1788, those real estate acquisitions underwent an architectural intervention that was intended to unify them in a single building. This intervention was substantial and not intended to settle the existing one, but proceeded to demolish numerous pre-existing walls with the aim of building a homogeneous facade, most suitable to the new needs of the institution, starting from the foundation, as required by Capitoli che si deuano oseruare per fare la noua Fabricha per il Santo Monte.

New and intense architectural interventions are due to the restoration and expansion works carried out during the 20th century, between 1906 and 1957, which further modified the eighteenth-century structure.

2. Outlines of institutional history.

A key moment for the history of Monte di Pietà di Ravenna, as indeed for many other Italian religious and nonreligious institutions, is represented by the Napoleonic advent in the peninsula between 1796 and 1797. Starting from February 10th, 1808, in compliance with a Decreto Regio dated September 31st, 1807, the Ravenna charitable institute was administered, along with other institutions such as hospitals, orphanages and hospices. Supervision of the work of the new administrative institution was entrusted to the archiepiscopal see and Comune di Ravenna.

Another prominent institutional step occurred in 1913, when the institute, changing its name to Monte Pegni, aimed at a change in the banking commitments, with the execution of loans on current account, government bonds, bank debentures, subsidy on goods and deposit warrants. In 1937, following the suppression of Congregazione di Carità, the jurisdiction of the institution passed under the administration of Ente Comunale di Assistenza (ECA). In 1939, the institute was allowed to perform banking functions, responsibilities and tasks, following the appointment of a Board of Directors.

In 1956, the institute merged with Monte di Credito su Pegno di Bagnacavallo, causing a change in the public entity business name (1905-1956) to be able to merge then with Banca del Monte di Bologna.

3. Bibliography

MASSIMO FORNASARI, PAOLA MITA, MARCO POLI, I cinquecento anni del Monte di Ravenna (1492-1992), Bologna, Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna, 1992.

LUCIA MASOTTI, Una sede «comoda per tutto il popolo»: localizzazione e sviluppo del Monte di Ravenna, in Sacri recinti del credito. Sedi e storia dei Monti di pietà in Emilia-Romagna, a cura di MAURO CARBONI, MARIA GIUSEPPINA MUZZARELLI, VERA ZAMAGNI, Venezia, Marsilio, 2005, pp. 221-37.

4. Historical archive of Monte di Pietà di Ravenna

The fund is now kept in wooden armoires at the headquarters of Fondazione del Monte di Bologna and Ravenna, in Via Donzelle 2, in Bologna.

The archival documentation covers a wide chronological period, between 1296 and 1939, preserving also documents from way before the foundation of Monte di Pietà di Ravenna, merged into the historical archive as a result of private donations.

5. Records at the series level

The 1501 testament is kept in a series called «Protocolli», consisting of 15 volumes, containing documents written between 1296 and 1807. The series was formed in 1784 with the aim of containing in chronological order the acts that preserve the memory of the inheritance received by Monte di Pietà di Ravenna.

6. The document.

The original is not preserved; it is, instead, an extract obtained in 1784 by a notary in service of Monte di Pietà di Ravenna. The particle of the will is transcribed in duplicate in a register, preceded by an alphabetized heading. The document opens a series of other similar legal acts: these are partial transcriptions of donations, testamentary legacies and codicils written by different people between 1501 and 1693. The register containing these acts is covered with two light-colored parchments with tattered leather laces, having the function of keeping the register closed. In the upper part of the cover, the title of the register was written in black ink: «A | n° J | Testamenti | Codicilli | Istrumenti || ». The accounting book consists of 70 paper sheets mm. 280x190, each one has in the center a filigree in the shape of a circle, surmounted by a six-pointed star with a drawing on the inside, attributable to the XVIII century. The first 15 sheets of the register do not have original cartography (our numbering from I to XV), while the last 55 exhibit an original cartography in Arabic numbers, placed in the upper right margin of the recto (front) of each card. The first sheet of the register serves as a flyleaf, while at the center of IIr sheet is the title of the register: « Ristretto di diversi Testamenti | Codicilli, Donazioni, e | Instrumenti || ». Blank are cc. Ir-v e IIv e XIIv – XVv. From c. IIIr is the alphabetized heading, organized by surname of the benefactor starting from the letter A and preceded by the title: « Indice de Testamenti, Codicilli | e Instrumenti || ».

Surnames of the benefactors in the register papers are organized in the following order:

c. IIIr


c. VIIIr


c. IIIv


c. VIIIv


c. Ivr


c. IXr


c. Ivv


c. IXv


c. Vr


c. Xr


c. Vv


c. Xv


c. Vir


c. XIr


c. Viv


c. XIv


c. VIIr


c. XIIr


c. VIIv


c. VIIIr


The transcript of the document in question is written on two paper sheets, on the first of which the title of the register is located: « In Dei Nomine Amen Anno Domini |  1784 | Ristretto di varie particole di Testamenti | Codicilli, Donazioni, e Istrumenti, nel quale si roleva non meno il nome delle | relative Persone, che hanno lasciate | Eredità, e fatti Legati al Santo Monte | di Pietà di Ravenna, che li rispettivi | Capitali || ». Here is the diplomatic transcription of the document (for the abbreviations, extension is given in round brackets) flanked by the date in Arabic numerals and underlined 1501, and by the register of the act in Italian: « Particola del Testamento della | fu Sig(nora) Agnesina Aldrovandini | rogato li 16 Gennaro 1501 per gli atti | del fù Ser Gregorio Grossi not(aio) di Ravenna || » (cfr. Allegato, cc. 1r-1v).

c. 1r c. 1v

Jtem iure legati reliquit et pro anima ipsius tes|tatricis, et Ser Cavalerij p(er)ito S. Monti Pietatis | Ravennae eius domum totam posita in guaita | S. Teodori in strata Justiniana iuxta ipsam | stratam Justinianam ab uno latere, ab uno la|tere heredes Ser Petri Pauli de Mainardis, et Julianum frascerios, vel alios veriores, et plures | confines; quam domum voluit, et reliquit esse | ad usum dicti S. Montis, et ut in ea semper sit, | et debeat exerceri offitium, et sit pro habi|tatione, et omni alio usu spectante ad ipsum | S. Montem. Et neque possit vendi, neque alie|nari aliter quoquomodo. Et hoc legatum vo|luit preferri caeteris suis legatis quibuscum|que, et dispositionibus ita quod non possit impe|diri defectu hereditatis, vel alio quoquomodo, | etiamsi in eius hereditate non essent tot | bona, quod possint satisfieri aliis eius le|gati circa potius caetera legata non habere locum qui impediri possit S. Monti lega|tum quoquomodo, causa, et ocasione... ||

The register is followed by the note: «Dal sopradeto legato proviene la casa | dove si esercita il ministero del Monte | senz’obbligo alcuno ||».

In essence, the particle of the document is taken out from a list of testamentary dispositions: the bequest starts with the typical formula of these acts, item, meaning 'ancora' (again), of which juridical tenor I present here a register in Italian.

Ancora, secondo il diritto legatario e per la salvezza della propria anima, la testatrice lascia in eredità al Sacro Monte di Pietà di Ravenna l’intera proprietà dell’immobile. L’abitazione è posta nella guaita di San Teodoro in via Giustiniana e confina da un lato con via Giustiniana e dall’altro con gli immobili di proprietà degli eredi di ser Pietro Paolo Mainardi e con quelli di certo Giuliano frascerio. La testatrice stabilisce di lasciare la casa ad uso del Monte di Pietà di Ravenna affinché in essa eserciti e sia esercitato semper le attività dell’istituto. La testatrice stabilisce che tale abitazione sia usufruita come residenza o con qualsiasi altro uso spetti al Monte di Pietà di Ravenna. Inoltre la testatrice stabilisce che tale casa non possa essere venduta o alienata in nessuna maniera. Infine la testatrice stabilisce che nel caso in cui per una qualche ragione di qualsiasi natura essa sia non possano essere soddisfatti i legati elencati nel testamento, non si possa in alcun modo non soddisfare il legato che concede al Monte di Pietà di Ravenna il passaggio in eredità della casa di proprietà della medesima.

7. A first survey: comparison between some private foundations of Monti di Pietà from Emilia-Romagna.

Taking now into consideration some Monti di Pietà in the Emilia-Romagna area, it has to be said that several foundations were favored by private donations, which constituted the original settlement nucleus of the Monti di Pietà. Alongside locations that to this day maintain a link with the historical evolution of the Monti di Pietà, completely analogous to what happened to the Monte di Pietà di Ravenna, there are other cases that show how sometimes the ancient sites of the Monti di Pietà were abandoned either for new, and more prestigious, offices, or due to financial crises. Here's a brief list of Monti di Pietà originated from private donations.

Monte di Pietà di Guastalla was founded over a testamentary bequest of Gasparo Corvalli dated May 3rd, 1552, but in 1657 the decision was made to build a new venue for the institute in a different area of the city.

Also in Correggio the first Monte was founded over a testamentary bequest; today, the place is nowhere to be found.

It was a testamentary bequest by the heirs of nobile Giovanni Mulazzani from Piacenza behind Monte di Pietà di Piacenza, in 1519. Today, the same building houses Loggia dei Mercanti, but for half a century it was the first office of Monte di Pietà di Piacenza. Starting from 1528, it was the testamentary bequest of nobile Tommaso Fontana to commence the new headquarters of Monte di Pietà di Piacenza.

In Mirandola, it was Fulvia da Correggio, countess of Mirandola and widow of Count Ludovico II Pico who, on October 5th, 1590, with a testamentary legacy, left the money needed to buil Fabbriceria del Monte di Pietà.

In Ferrara, the Monte di Pietà was established in 1517 over the testamentary bequest of nobile Teodosio Brugia, which destined its home to the charitable institution, binding it to the carrying out of welfare activities for the poor of Ferrara. Also this venue, like that of Ravenna, was expanded following the purchase of new buildings and architectural adaptation works during the eighteenth century. The building thus expanded was home to the Monte di Pietà until around 1760, when a new building was founded, in which the old architectural facade was moved.

In Imola, it was condottiero Taddeo Della Volpe who donated, in 1518, the palace to Monte di Pietà di Carpi, where it stayed until 1820, when it was transferred by Monsignor Rusconi to Convento del Carmine, and the building then became headquarters of the Institute of Istituto delle Ancelle del Sacro Cuore.

8. Donations to the Monte di Pietà of Ravenna: first related documents.

In 1784 a register was drawn up, which included, among other things, the registration of «Case pervenute al | Santo Monte di Pietà di Ravenna | in forza di varie pie testamentarie | disposizioni, come dal Protocollo segnato lett(er)a C n° J» , including in addition to the headquarters of the Monte di Pietà which legacy of the late Mrs. Agnesina Aldrovandini, other houses donated with the same conditions as that coming from the Heritage of Giovanni Francesco Peniti, donated to Monte di Pietà di Ravenna in 1560, with a formula similar to that used in the Aldrovandini will; it is a house located in Parrocchia di Santa Maria Maddalena da San Francesco, bordering the public street, the properties of the heirs of lord Raspone Rasponi, the Convent of San Francesco and lord Niccolò Sette Castelli, but the house seems to have been sold June 18th, 1779, to Lucia Miserocchi and her husband Battista Ribatti. The same to the house from the inheritance of the late Signora Chiara Cusinelli Aspini, consisting of a house left in inheritance with the same clauses in 1587, placed in the guaita of Santa Agata Maggiore, bordering the public street on two sides, and the properties of lord Battista Onestini, and of lord Girolamo, house sold March 9th, 1744, to Mr. Giuseppe Pinza and his wife, Giovanna Pantaluffi.