For over 550 years, the bell in Pienza, Italy, a small Tuscan village, has rung every half hour, including all night. Recently, though, the bell has been silenced during the hours of midnight and 7 a.m. The mayor stated that the complaints that led to the silencing of the bell came from residents and B&B owners, who are also residents. But I suspect that the complaints started with jet-lagged tourists who were having difficulty sleeping because of the noise every 30 minutes.
Now, other residents are complaining that they are having difficulty sleeping because of the lack of bell ringing.
I can understand both sides. Business owners want tourists to keep visiting because of the commerce they bring to their small town. But the appeal of visiting a new place includes experiencing the culture and tradition, including a bell ringing every 30 minutes. Personally, I would not want them to stop the bells, but I acknowledge that having the bell quiet overnight won’t greatly change the culture or the tourist experience.
Residents in tourist locations tend to have a love-hate relationship with those tourists. Many want tourists to visit and spend their money but don’t want to alter their habits, routines, or traditions.
This week, I imagined the bells I have heard on my travels and enjoyed being distracted by a low-key conflict in a sleepy village.
Take care and stay safe.
Somebody’s Fool by Richard Russo
Ten years after the death of the magnetic Donald “Sully” Sullivan, the town of North Bath is going through a major transition as it is annexed by its much wealthier neighbor, Schuyler Springs. Peter, Sully’s son, is still grappling with his father’s tremendous legacy as well as his relationship to his own son, Thomas, wondering if he has been all that different a father than Sully was to him. Meanwhile, the towns’ newly consolidated police department falls into the hands of Charice Bond, after the resignation of Doug Raymer, the former North Bath police chief and Charice’s ex-lover. When a decomposing body turns up in the abandoned hotel situated between the two towns, Charice and Raymer are drawn together again and forced to address their complicated attraction to one another. Across town, Ruth, Sully’s married ex-lover, and her daughter Janey struggle to understand Janey’s daughter, Tina, and her growing obsession with Peter’s other son, Will. Amidst the turmoil, the town’s residents speculate on the identity of the unidentified body, and wonder who among their number could have disappeared unnoticed.