What currency is used in Vatican City?

The Vatican Currency has had a long confusing history, which has gone from scudi, to lira to euro! Read all about it below

While travelling through Europe, you will see a jigsaw of countries all bursting with their own unique culture and history. This is one of the best bonus’ in Europe, where a simple hour’s drive can take you to a completely different world. However, one of the downsides to this is that different countries require different currency. Although a number of places use the widespread euro (around 23 countries altogether) some remain stubborn in their own unique dollar. Working out when you’ll need to head to the exchange shop before heading to the country is always safer and minimises the risk of any stressful situations occurring. 

So, what about the Vatican city? Vatican City is the world’s tiniest country in existence. Sitting right bang in the middle of Rome, the city is home to a rich culture, famous artwork, and of course the Pope! Unique in its status, customs and people, it should come as no surprise that it is also unique in its currency. 

Why is the Vatican City independent from Italy?

Before the Kingdom of Italy gained control, Italy was run by the Papal States, also named the bishops of Rome, or more commonly known as the Popes. It reigns over the country from 754 CE until 1861 when the Kingdom of Italy started to turn on papal territories. Soon the entire country was a part of this new regime, with the Pope running and hiding within the Vatican City’s walls. His refusal to acknowledge the Kingdom of Italy as a country while complaining about his self-made imprisonment. Italy decided to wait him out, figuring he would give in, eventually. However, they did not predict the Pope’s stubbornness and the willingness of other cardinals to submit themselves to this imprisonment. The stalemate last for 60 years, with several Popes accepting this strange sense of captivity. It came to be seen as an honour. Finally, in 1929, the Prime Minister proposed an arrangement that involved transforming the Vatican City into its own independent country, controlled by the Pope. The only compromise being that the Vatican had no say when it came to the political and cultural decisions of the rest of Italy. 

What Currency is used in the Vatican City?

  • Roman Scudi

    As the Papal States consolidated in 1376, their currency became known as Roman scudi, consisting of 100 baiocchi. One baiocci was worth give Quattrini. Other coins in use were Grosso, worth five baiocci, carlino, and more. Used throughout a number of local municipalities as well as Rome, the first scudi paper was issued in 1785 by Santo Monte Della Pieta di Roma. There was a brief period where the scudi ceased due to the invasion of France, but it returned again following Napolean’s defeat in 1814. Scudi continued to circulate and remained the official Vatican currency until 1866. 

  • Vatican Lira

    Over the next 100 years invasions, loss of power and status of the church would influence the Vatican currency. For instance, during the Italian revolution, the Pope lost all authority over provinces of Marshes and Umbria and was left only with Latinum, the area surrounding Rome. 6 years later, Pope Pius IX joined the Latin Monetary Union and a new currency was introduced called lira. The Pope even issued their own version, called Papal Lira which was equal in value to the Italian lira. And so the official currency of the Vatican was born. This was the case from 1866 until 1870 after which it ceased to exist. In 1929 when the Lateran Pacts were signed, a distinct coinage was introduced, denominated in centesimi and lire, on par with the Italian lira – the currency of Italy from 1861 – 2002. These coins were legal tender in the Vatican City along with banknotes also allowed to be used. 

  • Vatican Euro

    On January 1, 1999, Italy replaced their Italian lira with the euro, with the official case date being 2002. In 2000, Italy and the Vatican City both signed a contract which allowed the Vatican to adopt the euro as its official currency as well, despite the Vatican not being a member of the European Union or Eurozone. In order to distinguish themselves as the independent city-state that they were however, the Vatican Euro was designed with an image of the Pope on the back. Although sad to see the lira go, this makes visiting Italy and the Vatican a lot easier! The fourth series of the coin has been stamped with the image of the current Pope Francis. 

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