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Italian locals outraged after tourists put a stop to bell that helps them sleep

‘We are not the only ones to do this,’ says mayor of decision to silence the bells

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 02 August 2023 09:20 BST
Pienza’s iconic clock tower
Pienza’s iconic clock tower (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Locals in an Italian town have complained that they can’t sleep after the bells of their historic clock tower were silenced at tourists’ request.

The Unesco-listed town of Pienza in Tuscany is famed for its 15th-century buildings, such as the Pienza Cathedral and Piccolomini Palace, Pope Pius II’s summer residence, as well as being used as a backdrop in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet.

Its Renaissance clock tower previously chimed every 30 minutes.

But after a slew of complaints from visitors that the bells were keeping them awake, the decision was taken to silence them between 10pm and 7am.

Grievances came from foreign guests staying in B&Bs, particularly in the summer, when they were more likely to leave windows open overnight to keep rooms cool.

“We received complaints from several owners of B&Bs,” Manolo Garosi, the mayor of Pienza, told The Telegraph.

“They were mostly from the properties that are close to the main piazza and so near to the bell tower.”

However, although the move has appeased tourists, not all local residents are happy with the decision.

Some have argued that the bells are part of the fabric of the town, while others have claimed that they are struggling to sleep without the regular tolling that they have been accustomed to hearing all their lives.

Mr‌ Garosi has defended the decision, saying: “We are not the only ones to do this. Other towns that have bell towers have done just the same thing.”

Meawhile, other Italian destinations have been forced to clamp down on tourists as visitor numbers surge following the pandemic.

In May, the tourist region of Trentino Alto Adige introduced new rules limiting the number of overnight guests.

The minister for tourism, Arnold Schuler, told CNN that the region has “reached the limit” of how many visitors it can handle.

Numbers of overnight visitors in the Northern Italy region are now capped at 2019 levels to cut down on overtourism.

No more guest houses, Airbnbs or hotels are allowed to open unless an existing one closes down.

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