In order to allow for the rotation of the main bell of Giotto's Campanile in Florence, known as the ‘campanone’ (big bell), all seven bells of the iconic monument on Piazza Duomo will not ring until November 26. Furthermore, the Campanile will be closed to the public on November 8, 9, 25 and 26.
The main bell, named Santa Reparata in honor of the saint to whom the ancient Cathedral of Florence is dedicated, was built in 1475. It is one of the largest active bells in Italy today: it measures two meters in diameter, 210 cm in height, with a thickness of 15 cm for five tons of weight. The bell was recast in 1705, after cracks had formed.
The maintenance work is commissioned and coordinated by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore, the institution created in 1296 by the Florentine Republic to manage the construction of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. Today, it still oversees the administration of the entire Cathedral complex in Florence. The firm charged with the repair work, A.E.I. Perego, a company specialized in the design and installation of bells, explains that the intervention is complex but will be pretty much invisible to the public because it will be carried out inside the belfry, except for the days when the monument will be closed and a crane will be positioned outside in front of the bell tower.
The rotation, by a quarter, is necessary because usage has thinned the thickness of the bronze in the points where the clapper strikes. In this case, the wear has exceeded 10% of the thickness therefore the bell must be rotated otherwise it may break.
This will be the last time that the ‘campanone’ can be rotated, having already been turned to all other sides. Once this side has also thinned, the bell will need to be cast again.
Make sure you check out our top tips for visiting Florence’s Cathedral Complex.