Pawnshops are a very important part of the history of Italy. In the past, they were nearly the only activity allowed to Jews. The Italian Church even tried to introduce a more advantageous version of the pawnshops, the “piety shops” (“monti di pietà”) in order to stop the Jews’ ascendancy and help the poor.
After the explosion of the crisis, pawnshops have become widespread in Italian cities and towns. According to an estimate by the Bank of Italy, they serve 30,000 customers every month, providing the immediate cash which is denied by banks and financial corporations.
Exactly like in the Middle Ages, they are subject to the competition of their new “cousins”, the “gold buyers”, specialized in jewels. A gold buyer will buy your item instead of using it as a pledge.