Banking in Italy

This is a door to an Italian bank, like the one I went to yesterday. Doors like this must be passed through to enter banks throughout this country. It isn’t the way you enter a US Bank, but here in Italy you just can’t walk into a bank at your pleasure.

Once you master the system in Italy, and it does take a bit of figuring out, you enter one door at a time, one person at a time, no more. First you have to press the enter (Entrata) button and if you don’t look like a threat to society, however they look these days and however that is determined, the door slides open and you walk into a small, narrow double-door chamber. So that’s the first door

You are now in an inner corridor, about the size of a small closet. Somehow you are inspected, although again you never know how, and if you pass muster, another door slides open and there you are, inside the bank. Eureka! You have made it. As you wipe the sweat off your brow, you finally can proceed to the counter.

I should note the procedure is reversed when you leave the bank. So you see it isn’t easy to transact your business at the bank or rob one for that matter.

In spite of these strict entry and exist requirements, much like getting in and out of an Ivy League college these days, banks are still robbed in Italy. According to a 2007 report in the Guardian, over 3000 bank robberies occurred in Italy the previous year, slightly more than half of those in all of Europe. And you know how many countries there are in Europe, don’t you?

You think you have a safe job working at an Italian bank? Wrong. According to the Guardian once again “bank clerks now face a one in 10 chance of being held up every year.”

“One Ferrara bank clerk, Stefano Bellettati, told La Repubblica that after being robbed nine times in 11 years, one heist stood out. "Four robbers with wigs and masks came in speaking English, French and Spanish among themselves to avoid identification and fled on bicycles."

One might wonder how they ever made it through those high-security, double-door entry closets. Perhaps they don’t have such systems outside of the major metropolitan areas. I am in the dark about this, although I suspect there are bank branches in neighborhoods outside the city center and small towns that may not have such tight security systems. I don’t doubt they cost a fair amount to procure and install.

I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising: People will find a way to do what they want regardless of how hard it is or the potential risk to them. Even trying to transact your business at your friendly Italian bank.