Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Italy, as you will have read, is now on high security alert and I understand the need for this, with Rome having been threatened. I didn't expect it to affect my banking arrangements, though!

Yesterday I couldn't understand why the "link" [atm] machines weren't working, in several banks. Yes, they sometimes go down for an hour or two but not all day, everywhere. Finally I managed to complete one transaction before the machine at that bank went down too. Today the same thing happened again and I did the rounds of the banks before finding one which at least had the courtesy to display a notice telling you why: "We are sorry but for security reasons no transactions can be carried out using international or microchipped cards." I don't know whether the thinking is that if they can't get any money the terrorists can't do anything or whether it is thought that the microchip could trigger an explosion. Perhaps someone out there could explain it to me? But whatever the reason, COME ON, ITALY, YOU CAN'T TELL ALL FOREIGNERS, INCLUDING THOUSANDS OF TOURISTS IN THE COUNTRY, THAT THEY CAN'T ACCESS THEIR OWN MONEY! If all the tourists decide, "I wouldn't go back to Italy because I couldn't withdraw money / use my credit card" what will that do to the economy?

OK, I should have opened an Italian bank account by now but this is such a bureaucratic process that lots of British people who have settled here manage without doing so and you are even advised against it in some of the books giving advice on moving to Italy. Bank charges here are also high compared to the UK and that puts people off too. I did, finally, find a bank still taking international cards this morning but it's a worrying situation.

Later, at least one of the supermarkets had put away all their baskets and there were new notices telling you to use a trolley. It may be nothing to do with security, of course, or maybe they think you are less likely to blow the place up if you use a trolley as you will want your trolley deposit euro back?

1 comment:

Ballpoint Wren said...

That's frightening! Losing access to your money...

Is the panic about the threats on the Pope's life?

I believe the Pope's speech was very scholarly and dry, and his quotes from that conversation in 1391 were taken out of context, probably because most of the reporters found it difficult to read the whole thing!

Hugo Chavez's comments in Harlem were much more serious, I think, and covered by our right to free speech (if not our right to make complete fools out of ourselves by going to a foreign country and insulting its leader).


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