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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces part of

Curiosità storiche trevane

Tommaso Valenti

Published by F. Campitelli,
Foligno, 1922

The Italian text is in the public domain;
this translation is © William P. Thayer 2016.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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The Piazza

 p1  The City Tower

[ from La Torre di Trevi, Year I No. 1, January 1, 1898 ]

It is located at the south east corner of the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele.​a

The documents that might have allowed the precise date of its construction to be determined have unfortunately been lost. I think, however, that there are grounds for believing it to have been built in about the 13c.

In the 14c, in 1354 to be more precise, we start to find in the Riformanze of the city, which are the minutes of old Council meetings, a few decisions which refer to the Tower. In that year the crowning protective battlement was built; it can still be seen today. This battlement was called at the time the canestro or "basket".

Corrado Trinci of Foligno, who had seized Trevi by force in about 1420, and who was then invested with it by Martin V for  p2 a term of three years, lowered the Tower during his rule as Vicar (October 8, 1424); but after his rule, the City raised it once again, because from far away the sound of the bells could no longer be heard (1429).

This work was executed with the coöperation of the entire City: two or three pertiche were added during the tenure of each Prior, i.e., every two months, since such was the length of a Prior's tenure.

pertica is equivalent to 12 cubic meters of masonry.

The City committed itself to supplying for it the stone, the sand, and the lime. The labor was paid 15 florins a pertica, and to support these expenses the City imposed a tax of 10 soldi in specie per household.

The work did not go according to plan, however, and in 1461 the City was forced to remove the bells from the tower and to move the clock to the belfry of S. Emiliano. After that the Tower was again raised in 1462. But this work too was poorly executed, requiring still further repairs in 1464.

The City was led to these repairs when a piece of the Tower fell and killed a man from Perugia, one Ser Grazioso, as stated by Mugnonio, a notary in Trevi, in his Annals, now kept in the Vatican Library.​b

 p3  The tower was damaged once again in 1691, by earthquakes. It was then that its merlons were reduced in number to the four corner uprights we now see. At that time the bells were also set in their present location, uncovered, at the top of the tower.

Of the old bells two were cast in 1351. Some people maintain that the largest bell had been blessed by Pope Boniface IX (Tomacelli), maybe when he passed through Trevi on his way to Perugia to quell the revolt of the popular party (the Raspanti) against the nobles (1397). But it seems more likely that the bell was blessed in 1522 by one Natale della Torre Bishop of Veglia​c who imposed his name on it, naming it "Natale" provided it would not be rung for capital executions, under penalty of excommunication.

This bell was held to be of special effectiveness in immediately dispelling dangerous rainstorms. Embedded in the west side of the Tower can be seen the brick measurement standards prescribed of kiln workers by the City.

Around the lip of the main bell is written this couplet:

Convoco, signo, noto, debello, concino, ploro

Arma, dies, horas, nubila, laeta, rogos

 p4 The thought is found similarly phrased on many old bells; the inscription may be literally translated as follows:

I muster, count, ring, dispel, celebrate, mourn

Troops, days, hours, clouds, feast days, the dead.

This and much other information, too tedious and arcane to adduce here, I found in our city archive, the Archivio delle Tre Chiavi, and in the Historia di Trevi by Durastante Natalucci, of whom I shall speak later.

Thayer's Notes:

a After World War II, the abdication of King Victor Emmanuel, and the abolition of the monarchy a few months later, the Piazza — the main square of Trevi — was renamed Piazza Mazzini.

b The Annals of Francesco Mugnonio or Mugnoni, covering the years 1416 to 1504, were finally published in 1921, in Vol. V (Fascicules I and II) of Archivio per la Storia Ecclesiastica dell'Umbria, under the editor­ship of Fr. Pietro Pirri. They are online at ProTrevi; this passage is on p111 as printed.

c See the author's note on p53.

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Page updated: 28 Sep 16