Dating back to 1472, Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) is the oldest surviving bank in the world and the third largest in Italy. Along one of the main streets in Siena, Via Banchi di Sopra, is Salimbeni Palace, designed with pointed arched windows and a doorway in the Gothic style. Right in front of the building is Salimbeni Square, enclosed also by buildings to its sides, Spannochi palace in Florentine Renaissance style and Tantucci palace in a late Renaissance style. The square constitutes the historical site of MPS and the three buildings house the headquarters of MPS today.
A statue of Sallustio Bandini stands in the center of the square. Bandini was an important Sienese politician and economist in the late 17th to early 18th century. It is said that he invented the modern bill.1 Some of the earliest examples of medieval forms of bills and credit cards, as well as the bank’s records through the years and Sienese works of art, are on display in Monte dei Paschi’s museum for students and researchers to study.2
The square is often seen in the Italian news now as a result of an MPS scandal involving hidden derivatives, uncovered this past January. As a result, the bank lost more than 20% of its value in three sessions in three days, though recovered much on the Stock Exchange since and received a bailout from the Bank of Italy for over $5 billion. The bank lost nearly 3.2 billion euros ($4.1 billion) in 2012.3
2. Tour of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Legislative and Business Italian, Siena Italian Studies, April 9, 2013.