In an elegant suburb of Florence, nerves had begun to fray. Day and night, at all hours, the bells of the local church Santa Maria a Coverciano rang incessantly. Priest Don Leonardo Guerri seemed to have no mercy for his parishioners kept from working, relaxing or sleeping by the chimes. But, having finally had too much, the local residents have made their voices heard over the peals.
The “war of the bells”, as the local newspaper dubbed it, had been dragging on for four years. Residents were subjected to the chimes hundreds of times a day. On holidays, the bells would ring every half hour. The owner of a takeaway joint directly across the road from the church would hear the peals throughout the day. But it was on the surrounding residents, he says, that the bells really took their toll. “They couldn’t sleep at night,” he says.
Inhabitants of the local area spent years turning desperately to legal proceedings, petitions, and checks for noise pollution in order to get some peace. Finally, Tuscany’s regional agency for environmental protection stepped in and issued the priest with a fine. Guerri was required to pay a penalty of €2000. And told to ease up on the chimes.
So, after years of lobbying, the excessive bell ringing has ceased and the suburb can go about their daily activities without their ears ringing.
The priest has since declined to comment and rumours on his whereabouts abound. There’s talk that he’s run away. But in the local bar the word is he’s taking his revenge by playing the violin from the bell tower instead.