Italy ’s first coin the florin was struck from 1252 to 1523 with no major change in its design or metal content standard. The Italian coin had 54 grains of gold equal to 3.5grams. The florin otherwise known as the “fiorino d\‘oro” of the Republic of Florence was the first European gold coin struck in ample quantities to play a significant commercial role since the seventh century. As many Florentine banks were international super-companies with branches across Europe , the florin quickly became the dominant trade coin of Western Europe for large scale transactions, replacing silver bars in multiples off the mark.
The lira (plural lire) the term originates from the value of a pound weight (Latin: Libra) of high purity silver and as such is a similarity of the British pound sterling. The words lira and pound were popular names before the Euro was introduced in 2008 in most countries. “L” would be seen on most coins or “ï¿½‚ï¿½” as this is the symbol for the Lira. Between 1999 and 2002, the Italian lira was officially a “national subunit” of the euro. However, physical payments could only be made in lire, as no euro coins and notes were available.
The lira was also the currency of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy between 1807 and 1814.
After a series of stunning military victories in northern Italy in 1796 and 1797, which launched his career and made his reputation as a great general, Napoleon established the Republic of Italy in 1802, making himself as president. In 1805, after having assumed the title of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, he transformed this “republic” into the Kingdom of Italy , which covered the whole of the north Italian plain from Milan to Venice , together with the Po valley and the Adriatic coast down to Ancona . He crowned himself King of Italy in Milan ’s medieval cathedral, with great pomp and circumstance, and named his stepson Eugène de Beauharnais as Viceroy to rule while he pursued his conquest of Europe .
The Kingdom of Italy was actually little more than a French colony to be exploited for natural resources. It also provided an excellent battlefield for Napoleon’s recurrent skirmishes against Austria . By 1809, France controlled the entire Italian peninsula, but not for long. In 1814, Napoleon abdicated and Eugène was exiled by the Austrians, who overran Milan .