Messina’s Unique Bell Tower

April 17, 2008 / Art & Archaeology
Someone obviously pushed for something with bit more punch than the standard dlin dlon (yes, in Italian bells make this sound) for Messina, Sicily. Well, they obviously had it their way, because every day at noon the bell tower of the Cathedral in Messina might both dlin and dlon, but it also puts on a show!

When the clock hits midday, church bells are struck by two ten foot bronze statues representing the heroines who saved Messina during the Sicilian Vespers war (a 20 year 13th cent. conflict between the French, Anjoin, and Pope on one side, vs. the Sicilians, Aragonese, and HRE on the other).

Immediately following the chimes, a lion, that represents the strength of the city, waves his flag, wags his tail, turns his head to face the piazza and roars three times. As if awakened by the mighty lion, a rooster (photo 1 again), who ironically represents awakening, flaps his wings, raises his head, and crows three times.

As Ave Maria blares throughout the piazza, an angel appears bearing a letter for the Madonna, who is greeted by Saint Paul and a retinue of Messinesi ambassadors, each bowing in reverence as they pass.

Every detail on this 200-foot clock tower is a display of Messina’s rich history, strength, and perseverance. Sure enough, no visit to Messina is complete without it, so that person was right . . why have a bell tower when you can have a performance?

Cherrye Moore

by Cherrye Moore

Cherrye Moore is owner of My Bella Vita Travel, a boutique tour operator specializing in custom vacations and heritage tours in southern Italy. Join her in June or September for the Small Group Heritage Tour of Calabria – a unique small group tour that combines group travel with a private heritage tour, or in September for the Undiscovered Southern Calabria and Eastern Sicily Tour.


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