My first morning in Bologna over two months ago involved me waking up to the chiming of church bells at 6am. It was still uncomfortably hot so our open window made jetlagged, sleep-deprived me feel like I was actually inside the church, rather than just down the street from it. I remember turning over and thinking: “This is so great – I’m in Italy”, and then falling back into dreamland… Until 30 minutes later when the bells began ringing again.
I’ve since learned to live with the bells without them disrupting my sleep too much (although that may have to do with the window being closed now that the weather is cooler). Throughout the day, the bells are very punctual at chiming every thirty minutes but on some days, the clanging begins at random times, such at 5:45pm on Wednesdays and 12:20pm on Sundays.
Historically, church bells have been used for much more than just announcing the time to the town and apparently, some of these traditions are still upheld. Throughout Italy, church bells are used to announce a time of prayer, suggest when to eat meals, proclaim weddings, mourn at funerals, and celebrate various holidays (which there are a lot of). Although I haven’t figured out the exact reasoning for the random chiming that I hear on some days, it is certainly a small detail to add to the long list of things that makes living in Italy so different from living in the United States.