Essential maintenance work was carried out this morning on one of the bells in the Duomo in Barga Vecchia. The largest of the three bells was becoming more and more difficult to swing and so technicians from the Gruppo Campanari of Barga – the bell ringers of Barga decided that the time was right for an intervention. Time is a relative thing when you consider that the Duomo is a thousand years old and the oldest of the bells dates back to the 16th century. It would appear that the last time the bearings were examined was over 30 years ago when the bells were spun around a few degrees on their wooden yoke so that the clapper would not damage the bell by hitting the same spot. It was decided that the bearings which hold the weight of the bell and allow it to swing backwards and forwards were in need of changing.
Once they had managed the difficult task of securing the bell, estimated at 16 quintale … (1 quintale =100 kilos … you do the math) and opened up the bearing case it was discovered that not only were they worn down but one had actually been destroyed by the forces exerted on it over the years.
In the space of a couple of hours the bearings were replaced with shiny new examples, re-greased up, cases sealed, jacks and pulleys removed and once more the bell was back in top condition ready for tomorrows Sunday service but now now longer needing two men to get it swinging into action, a single push was enough to get the huge bell into motion.
Click on the link below for a brief interview with Enrico Cosimini standing in the bell tower and explaining just what work was taking place (in Italiano)
It is not the only “operation” that the team from the Campanari have performed recently. Only in April of last year they performed emergency surgery on the clock in the Duomo that chimes out over the city on the hour and every quarter hour which had been running into problems. Age had started to catching up with the mechanism. It is after all, over 60 years old and starting to show its age. If it was not for the constant resetting, adjusting and oiling by Popi – Giamperio Gonnella the sound of the bells would have stopped a long time ago. (article here)