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An Italian bell tower, though not the one causing the problems in this story

Newcomer to Italian village goes to war against excessive churchbell ringing

Newcomer to Italian village goes to war against excessive churchbell ringing

Noise pollution or tradition. Which will prevail?

In a summer dominated by Olympic Games and forest fires it is good to remember that the countryside can still produce some head-scratching news. Corriere della Serra’s Milanese section reported about an ongoing legal battle of sorts between a newcomer to the village of Drizzona and the local priest regarding the excessive bell ringing from the campanile, which disturbed the unnamed plaintiff’s nightly rest.

The plaintiff’s lawyer described the bells as ‘hyperactive’

The man, whose house is near the Sant’Eufemia church, had his lawyer send a letter to the priest as a complaint about the hours and excessive noise made by the belltower. Come 6:30 am the bells would sound out their first call, also known as the Ave Maria, in honour of the Virgin Mary. The lawyer’s letter managed to change that to 7:00 am but apparently it was not good enough.

Even though the bells are silent between 9:00 pm and 7:00 am, the plaintiff and his lawyer are still of the opinion that the bells are way too ‘hyperactive’ for comfort. Their argument is that there is no need for chimes every half an hour, given that there are only liturgical services on Sundays - the only meaningful time for bells to toll.

The village priest, Antonio Pezzetti, is just as indignant about this whole story: “This person could talk to me, instead of having a lawyer write me. After the first letter, I applied the bishop's decree. The lawyer wrote again that the decisions taken were inadmissible. He has announced that he will take legal action. I thought that the measures taken according to the indications of the bishop's decree were sufficient, but this is not the case”.

It turns out however that Drizzona’s inhabitants (about 500) stand behind their priest, even if they only visit the church on Sundays. There was even a protest, called “This is absurd, our bells are not to be touched”.

The lawyer is adamant that the law is on his side, since this is a question of quality of life and disturbance but pointed out that he would not like to go as far as completely silence the bells.

This may sound like the script for a Euro comedy film, as conceived in the mind of a Hollywood writer, but it is far from fiction. In fact, it possibly brings up questions about whether concepts, such as noise and light pollution might be a subjective issue.

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