The Bells of Italy

Every 15 minutes the bells of Santa Maria in Trastevere ring.  They ring the hour in one tone, then the minutes in another.  At 5:45 you hear:


clang, clang, clang

Each and every fifteen minutes. One Bong for each hour. One clang for each 15 minutes. We knew nothing about the bells of Italy so when we first arrived we wondered why the bells rang.  First we realized they rang every 15 minutes. Then we realized there were 2 distinct sounding bells.  First the BONG, then the clang.  We had conversations about the bells assessing the pattern and frequency.  Then, early one morning I looked at the time, then listened for the bells, and realized the sequence.  We had plenty of time to figure out the pattern, since it rang every 15 minutes.  When we first came we were alerted to the sound through sleepy minds.  It’s amazing how fast 15 minutes goes by as you lay in bed not being able to sleep.  It’s also amazing how slow they can go by.  Those bells counting how many moments in time you aren’t sleeping.  Bells counting how many moments in time until you can get up in the morning with puffy eyes. Bells counting down the time that is left to enjoy a beautiful Italian September.  Bells we don’t hear any more as we sleep for hours on comfortable beds after a long and busy day in Rome, or Ostia Antica, or Sperlonga, or Viterbo.  The bells are a part of this culture, this neighborhood, these people.

I will miss the bells.


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