Locals are blaming tourists for silencing the clocktower bells in Pienza, Tuscany. The bells will not toll during the hours of 10pm and 7am, after B&Bs said their guests complained.
Historically, the clocktower in the UNESCO heritage site town of Pienza, tolled every 30 minutes to mark the passing of time. However, following numerous complaints from B&Bs, the bells are silenced during the late evening to early morning.
Just south of the Tuscan gem of Siena, it appears American tourists are those who have complained most about the sound of the bells. The problem is exacerbated in the summer when windows are open to try and catch a cooling breeze.
“We received complaints from several owners of B&Bs,” said Manolo Garosi, the mayor of Pienza. “They were mostly from the properties that are close to the main piazza and so near to the bell tower.”
However, some of the locals are not amused. They say the tolling of the bells is part of the Pienza’s fabric. They are also having trouble sleeping as the silence is disquieting, having been used to the regular sound of bells.
Mr Garosi defended the silencing of the bells, though. He says the move is not unprecedented.
“We are not the only ones to do this. Other towns that have bell towers have done just the same thing,” he said.
Where is Pienza?
Pienza is in the picturesque Val d’Orcia of southern Tuscany. Originally known as Corsignano, it was renamed after Pope Pius II embarked on its transformation in the 15th century. The pope, who was born in the town, introduced Renaissance town-planning concepts.
The town has been used as a film location including Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.
UNESCO made it a World Heritage site in 1996, saying: “Pius II’s plan, to develop the town as his summer court, involved the construction or reconstruction of approximately 40 buildings, public and private, which further transformed the mediaeval town into a creation of the Italian Renaissance”.