This post is also available in: Italian

An efficient banking system is one of the requisites for economic recovery and development, and that is what happened to Bellegra in the post-war period with the cooperative credit bank, which was then called Cassa Rurale e Artigiana.

Bellegra occupies a whole hillside of a mountain so as to have the shape of a breast of the Ruffi mountains from a distance. It is a wonderful place for enjoying the scenery but not ideal for thinking of developing an industrial society.

Yet, right here in 1959, one of the most active banks in the area started to support the development of a large area between the High Valley of Sacco, the Valley del Giovenzano, Mount Simbruini and Prenestini Mountains.

The idea of ​​combining to create one’s own bank arose from 32 founding partners coordinated by Amedeo Patrizi and at the beginning the bank had an interest especially in the world of agriculture. Today there are over 1580 members and it continues to grow thanks to a system of merger with close cooperative credit banks in the territory.

The small bank was administered with wisdom and foresight and soon opened the first new branches in Olevano Romano, San Vito Romano, Gerano, and Genazzano, becoming a true reference point for thousands of small entrepreneurs and savers.

Thanks to this mutual assistance (cooperative) system, it has been able to bring wealth to a wide area by supporting new entrepreneurial initiatives that redistribute profits for the benefit of the local population in the development and promotion of the territory.

But how do these banks appear to be so different from those colossuses, the trading and investment banks who decimate the local economy? How did this cooperative system commence? This system of local development support is a well-known phenomenon in Italy and it can be said that it was born around 1800 in Germany by Raiffeisen.

In Italy, the first such bank was formed in Loreggia in 1883 and in 1890 the first catholic Cassa Rurale was founded.

A great support to its dissemination was the encyclical Rerum Novarum of Pope Leo XII, a pope with ‘country’ origins native of nearby Carpineto Romano, who first tackled the problem of social deployment that must accompany economic development with the Encyclical “Rerum Novarum”

Then came fascism and the Casse Rurali made a leap forward and became special cooperatives with many aspects in common with the traditional banking system but with their strong local autonomy. There were then also the first federations and confederations that brought together similar banks at the national level.

The war led to various upheavals and the need to rebuild a society destroyed by years of suffering and heavy bombing which, above all in Bellegra, had compromised the pre-existing social structure. In 1950, the Italian Federation of Casse Rurali e Artigiane was reformed and shortly afterwards the Bellegra Cassa Rurale was born.

Over the years, there have been several presidents and directors, but the spirit has not changed and to understand the strong bond between the bank and the citizens it is sufficient to participate in one of their assemblies or read the list of bank activities in the territory. They start with the San Vito Romano new year concert and end with the support of the needy at Christmas.

In 2016, the Bellegra BCC made a major step forward with new European structures but always striving to keep in line with the Bank’s cooperative spirit and with the figure of each member as a major element of the important decisions of the bank and hence of the community.

Claudia Bettiol

IT Ingegnere, futurista e fondatrice di Discoverplaces. Consulente per lo Sviluppo Turistico dei Territori, specializzato nella sostenibilità e nella promozione culturale dei piccoli territori e delle piccole imprese. Ama i cavalli ENG Engineeer, futurist, joint founder of Energitismo and founder of Discoverplaces. Consultant for the development and promotion of the Touristic Development of Territories specialising in sustainability and in cultural promotion of small places and small enterprises. She loves horses