Bell ringers of all ages from San Sepolcro, Corsagna, Perpoli, Cardoso, Chiozza, Bargecchia, Cascio and Lucca were in Barga this morning to help the Campanari – the bell ringers of Barga celebrate the first two hundred years of the Mezzana, the middle bell of the three bells in the duomo.
The smallest bell in the Duomo is also the oldest, being cast in 1580, the largest in 1737. In the middle is the Mezzana which was cast in 1812 in the Bimbi foundry with a diameter of 114 cms and a height of 118cms.
They started ringing the bells at 10 am and carried on for the next 60 minutes with various members of each group taking turns on the ropes.
There was a brief respite for the mass then the bells were heard again as the Proposto of Barga, Don Stefano mounted the steps of the tower to give his blessing to the centuries old bells. Then it was time to eat down at San Pietro in Campo before once again returning to the Duomo to give a stirring concert by the massed ranks of bell ringers which could be heard right across the valley.
There is an interesting interview at the end of this article with Cristian Tognarelli in which he talks about the bells to be found in the Duomo (in Italiano), the site that has recently been put up on the net and also mentioning the exhibition that he curated in the tower of photographs showing the bell ringers from the past.
What he doesn’t mention but which really should become public knowledge is the incredible battle that Cristian faces every time to goes to ring the bells.
Believe it or not, Cristian Tognarelli suffers from severe vertigo and has to be guided up the steep steps of the bell tower by his fellow bellringers who coax him up, keeping his attention away from the windows and the drop below until they reach the bells where concentrating on ringing the bells keeps his fear at bay … that is until it is time to return down the steep stairway once again.
Nothing like taming your fears by facing them is there ?
“Il Signor Dottor Menchi a sue spese e colle spontanee elargizioni fece rif.(ondere) Anno Domini MDCCCXII.F.F Bimbi fece rifondere questa campana essendo maire ed operaio il Sig. Francesco Bertacchi.
All the bells of Barga have been documented and their information put up on line here by the Gruppo Campanari of Barga
Cristian Tognarelli talking about the bells outside the Duomo this morning (in Italiano)