Only representatives of the institutions and, on rare occasions, authorized journalists and camera operators are allowed to visit the Bank of Italy’s gold reserves in Palazzo Koch.
The vault was designed to provide permanent safe custody for valuables, allowing access only when strictly necessary. The rooms are located beneath the main building and are windowless (with ventilation ducts); the emergency exit is up a steep, narrow, winding metal staircase. Visits are therefore brief, arranged well in advance, and limited to a small number of people to comply with security procedures and ensure the place remains generally off-limits, but without putting visitors at risk.
Every year the independent auditing company that certifies the Bank’s financial statements and acts on behalf of the company auditing the ECB’s annual accounts conducts an inspection of all the gold bullion stored in the Via Nazionale vault, accompanied by members of the Bank’s Internal Audit Directorate. When the head of the department in charge of the vault changes, the stock of gold is checked as part of the handover process. The Internal Audit Directorate can order an internal inspection at any time.
As for the gold bullion stored abroad, the depositary central banks do, as a rule, allow inspections. However, given the sensitive nature of such inspections and their implications for internal security and secrecy, the method and timing are always agreed beforehand. Recent checks have confirmed that the Bank’s gold stored abroad is of very high quality.