Le campane, or bells, are an everyday part of Italian life. Every where you turn, you see the bell towers or campanile. You hear the bells tolling regularly throughout the day. Every day. I hear them on my walk in the park in the morning, I hear them as I drive to work, I hear them everywhere, as we travel around Italy. And, on special occasions like Christmas Eve Midnight Mass, you can hear them clanging joyously from every direction, all at the same time.
It's not really the sound of the bells that are unique in Italy, it's what the campanile symbolize: Community, home town. Each little town, or even sections within a city, have a strong pride in their little slice of the world. This sense of community pride is called campanilismo, which has no direct translation in English. It's a sense of belonging to this place in the world, that this place is theirs, and it is the best there is. It is stronger than any sort of regional or national identity here in Italy. I found a great little summary of what it means and where it comes from here.
I've personally observed it, in my time here. When we talk to Italians in our travels, you get the sense of pride and belonging. Italy is not a mobile society, like we are in the US. Most people grow up and then live their entire adult lives in the same town or region, and it's hard for them to fathom moving as much as we do in the US, much less moving abroad. My Italian colleagues here are on the more mobile side, they are from all over Italy and some have lived abroad as well. But still, when you get to talking about places to visit, beautiful places in Italy, food, wine - the campanilismo shows up. Their town is the most beautiful place in the world. Their food is the best food that you could ever taste. The rivalries between them are joking and in fun, but underlying it is the same strong sense of community that has persisted for hundreds of years.
Yesterday morning I went out to capture the closest bell tower, in our town of Vedano al Lambro. Just before this the bells were ringing their little hearts out. It was hard to get a good pictures, since it's tucked along a tiny street, probably originally from medieval times, and there was construction scaffolding right in front of it. At this angle though, I was struck by the contrast of the roof adornments. The simple crosses on the church as compared to the antennae on the roof next door. A commentary on how society has changed through the years. And through it all, the campanile have stood, as a symbol of place like no other.
Today's 9 Muses Musing prompt is BELLS. Tomorrow's prompt is JOURNEY. I hope you will join in!