Giotto's Bell Tower
Santa Maria del Fiore
Santa Maria del Fiore
The bell tower of Santa Maria del Fiore was begun by Giotto in 1334, carried on, after his death, by Andrea Pisano and completed in 1359 by Francesco Talenti. The sculptural decoration is extremely rich with 56 reliefs in two superimposed registers and with 16 life-size statues, the work of Florentine masters of the 300s and 400s, including Andrea Pisano, Donatello and Luca Della Robbia. The originals of all the sculptural works are kept in the Museo dell'Opera.
In the documents of the Opera di S.Maria del Fiore and in the work of the historian Giuseppe RICHA "Historical news on Florentine churches" we find the following information on the bells:
1 – The main bell called S. Reparata was built in 1475. Having broken, it was recast by Antonio Petri in 1705; it weighs 15860 pounds.
2 - The so-called “Mercy” Bell. Having broken, it was recast by Carlo Moreni in September 1830, and weighs 6414 pounds.
3 – The Bell known as the “Apostolic”. It was cast in April 1516 by Lodovico di Guglielmo and weighs 5000 pounds.
4 – The Bell called the “Beona”, weighs 2760 pounds.
5 – The Terza Bell, which bears the name of “Maria Anna”, weighs 2152 pounds.
6 – The small bell was cast on November 4, 1513; it weighs 1400 pounds.
7 – The smaller Bell was cast in December 1514; it weighs 1000 pounds.
In the years 1956 - 57, following the replacement of the wooden frame that supported them with a new metal structure, and the simultaneous motorisation of the movement of the bells, the Commission in charge of this decided to exclude the five smaller bells from the concert (3 , 4, 5, 6, 7)
In place of the bells "set aside", five new bells were cast by the Prospero Barigozzi company. These are decorated with bas-reliefs illustrating Marian episodes (and privileges), by well-known sculptors.
At present the bells in use have the following characteristics:
n. 1: the "Campanone" or "S. Reparata ”(about 5000 Kg) with note LA; diameter ml. 2.00;
n. 2: the “Misericordia” (about 2500 Kg) with the note DO; diameter ml. 1.500;
n. 3: the “Apostolica” (about 1800 Kg) with note RE; diameter ml. 1.45, bas-reliefs by Mario Moschi;
n. 4: the “Assunta” (Kg. 846) with note MI; diameter ml. 1.27, bas-reliefs by Bruno Innocenti;
n. 5: the “Mater Dei” (Kg. 481) with the note G; diameter ml. 1.16;
n. 6: the “Annunziata” (Kg. 339) with note A; diameter ml. 0.95;
n. 7: the “Immaculate Conception” (Kg. 237) with the note YES; diameter ml. 0.75.
Each recast bell bears, also in bas-relief, its own name, the coat of arms and the name of Cardinal Archbishop Elia Dalla Costa who consecrated them, in the Baptistery, on 10 June 1956 and also the emblem of the Opera di S. Maria del Fiore. and the Municipality of Florence. Some Latin couplets are engraved on the last four.
In 2000 – 2001 the electrification and motorisation system for the bells was completely renovated by the Opera di S. Maria del Fiore.