Venice Bells



The Bells of Venice


One of the great joys of Venice is the never ending bells chiming from the hundreds of campanili (bell towers).  The bells are rung at various times of the day, but at 6:00 p.m. there is a symphony of ringing that can be heard from near and far no matter where you are in Venice. Each campanile has its distinctive sound. Some are tinny. Some are striking. Some are eloquent. 


This is Rio San Barnaba with the campanile of Santa Maria del Carmelo,
known as I Carmini. Click the picture to hear a brief clip of the 6:00 p.m. bells.



The Marangona

There is one very special bell in Venice and it has a name.  It is the Marangona.  It is located in the great campanile in Piazza San Marco and is the only one of the five original bells to survive the collapse of the tower on July 14, 1902. It is an ancient bell or unknown origin and it has the most beautiful, haunting, and mellifluous tone of any bell we have ever heard. 


Click on the campanile to hear a clip of the Marangona at midnight.

The campanile of San Marco was originally built in the 9th Century as a watch tower for the harbor and was later rebuilt to its present look by Bartolomeo Bon in 1514. Bon was one of the most important sculptures and architects of Gothic Venice who gave us the glorious façade of Ca' d'Oro.  

Each of the original five bells had names and were rung to signal a specific events: the Maleficio signaled that a capital execution was going to take place.  La Trottiera called magistrates to the Palazzo Ducale; La Nona rang at the ninth hour; The Pregadi announced meetings of the Senate.  The Marangona rang the beginning and ending of the work day and was named after the marangoni, the carpenters, but the term was synonymous for workers.

In 1912 the campanile was rebuilt exactly as it looked before it collapsed. If fact, they used as much of the original material as they could. So, many of the bricks date to the beginning sixteenth century.



Today the Marangona is only rung twice a day, at noon and midnight.  To hear it in its glory, you must go at midnight when the piazza will be quiet and the Marangona is struck solo.  At midday, the bell competes with all the tourists who do not even hear it. Go and sit at the Caffè Chioggia which is open late and plays nice jazz. Just before midnight, take your drink and go stand in the middle of Piazza San  Marco and listen to the Marangona as you gaze on the haunting church looming like a mirage.  You will remember it forever.

Piazza San Marco starting to flood at Midnight.