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Bell-tower of the Palatine Basilica of Santa Barbara collapsed at earthquake

Bell-tower of the Palatine Basilica of Santa Barbara collapsed at earthquake

Torre dei Modenesi, a 13th century clock tower destroyed in May when two powerful earthquakes rocked the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, has become a symbol of the quake’s damage to the country’s heritage, Britain-based The Art Newspaper has reported.

Teams of volunteers from across the country have travelled to the small town of Finale Emilia to help salvage, collect and catalogue fragments of the 32-meter high tower in an effort to eventually restore it to its former glory.

Nearby, in the similarly quake-damaged city of l’Aquila, however, residents have been unable to return to their homes for more than three years.

Volunteers have so far sifted through around 7,000 fragments of the tower, from red terracotta bricks and pieces of the clock to parts of the bell itself. The fragments are being stored in pallets in the courtyards of local primary schools. It is expected that they will be transferred to a warehouse for the winter where they will be studied further.

A spokesperson for the Direzione Regionale per i Beni Architettonici e Paesaggistici (the regional arm of Mibac, the Italian ministry of culture) has acknowledged the presence of civilian volunteers in Finale, but also stated that the official response teams are still evaluating the widespread damage to the region’s heritage and are not specifically focusing on the tower at this time. He added, however, that where it is possible “our priority is to rebuild damaged sites with the original pieces,” reported Art Newspaper.

The volunteer operation has reportedly yielded some unexpected finds in the rubble, such as bricks inscribed with personal messages, spear- and arrowheads, remains of ancient ceramics, a 15th-century print of a crucifixion scene and even a brick containing a child’s footprint. Finale’s head of culture, Massimiliano Righini, has assured the Italian media that “we’ll get it done; the tower will become a museum unto itself”, although it is doubtful that it will be standing again in time to mark its 800th birthday in 2013.

According to the Art Newspaper, once they complete the task the volunteers have vowed to help repair the damage inflicted to the Castello delle Rocch, which is also located in Finale. The medieval castle was mainly built in the 15th century, but some of it dates to the 13th century.

August/14/2012

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