Italian Town Prints Its Own Currency to Fight Austerity Measures

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Alessia Pierdomenico / Reuters

A photo illustration of Filettino's own bank currency, the "Fiorito," bearing the image of its mayor, Luca Sellari.

If you’re a small-town mayor unhappy with your national government, there’s one thing you can do: declare independence and start issuing currency with your face on it. Just ask the mayor (or should we say, prince?) of Filettino, Italy.

Italy is right in the middle of the larger sovereign debt crisis going on in Europe, which is shaking the confidence of markets across the globe. The Italian government has issued a number of austerity measures to get its books in order, including plans to merge the governments of towns with less than 1,000 people to cut costs. That’s 1,963 towns total.

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But Luca Sellari, the mayor of Filettino, Italy, is fighting back. Rather than give into the national government’s demands, Sellari wants his central Italian town of 598 to become an independent state under a monarch. Who would be the monarch, you ask? Well, Sellari, of course.

“It’s everyone’s dream to be a prince,” he told The New York Times.

The town, only some 60 miles from Rome, has begun issuing its own currency, called the fiorito, and according to Sellari, it’s already being used by the townspeople. The town, which would become a principality, already has a new coat of arms that are on T-shirts and even bottles of liqueur.

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But can he do this? According to the Times, Sellari had plans to meet with one of the country’s most famous lawyers to examine the legality of his plans. A number of towns and regions have printed their own coin in these tough economic times, and the law, of course, is different depending on where you’re located. (In the U.S., local money cannot resemble federal bills or be promoted as legal tender.) As of now, the fiorito is looked at as more of a souvenir than true currency to those outside the town.

However, Sellari envisions Filettino will some day be like the republic of San Marino, which is a surrounded by Italy but not officially part of it. It’s the oldest surviving state and constitutional republic in the world. And, it has no national debt. In debt-ridden Europe, who even knew that was possible?