Marinelli Bell Foundry – Agnone

11 Jul

Before returning to Cortona from the Pietrabbondante area, we made one last stop. Agnone is the capital of the highest part of Molise, and also home to the world-famous Pontificia Marinelli Bells Foundry. The foundry continues to produce hand-made bells the same way they were made in the Middle Ages and their bells can be found in churches and bell towers throughout the world.

We almost didn’t get to see the foundry as we couldn’t find it. Several people told us it was next to the market, but we thought we misunderstood as a foundry wouldn’t be in the middle of a town. After our 4th attempt, we had about given up when we came across two men on bicycles. After I asked about the foundry, one told us to follow him, he on his bike, we in our car. He pedaled hard and fast uphill, about one half mile, then stopped in front of the market. To our right was a tiny driveway, lined with trees. We hadn’t considered that the town had built up around the foundry! Finally, we arrived thanks to the kindness of that man on bicycle. And what a find it was!

From their website:

Campane Marinelli foundry has a very long history; the first bell was made around the year one thousand and since then their work has been a long sequence of successes and honors. One of the most significant honors that the foundry can boast is the possibility to use the Papal Arm Coat in their production; it was Pope Pio XI in 1924 to grant that privilege to the foundry.

The tour guide was great, explaining how bells are made in both Italian and English, and patiently answering our questions.

The tour began with a movie showing the entire bell making process. Then we were treated to a demonstration by a “master” playing scales and songs on a number of bells (hanging on the right below). We learned that each bell has only one note, a perfect pitch.

In the next room, we saw where the artists create each bell’s decorations.

Finally, we were taken to the museum where we learned more about the four major steps of bell making.

The museum contains “twins” of many famous bells. They are called twins, as opposed to duplicates, because no two bells are exactly the same as the molds are broken during the manufacturing process. Some very interesting twins include the bells commemorating the unification of Italy,

and the bells honoring the new pope saints, Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Saint John XXIII.

Each new Pope receives a bell in his honor, the latest being Papa Francesco.

Another bell (campane) in the museum commemorates the incredible kindness of an American family after a terribly tragic event. Their young son Nicholas was killed while they vacationed in Calabria. The family chose to donate the boy’s organs to seven local Italian children. Some years later, the seven families had a bell made with Nicholas’ name and the name of the seven children who survived as a result of this family’s incredible courage and generous gift of life. The bell was shipped to Nicholas’ family in Bodega Bay California where a memorial dedication was held.

Touring the Marinelli Foundry and learning about the bells was an extremely interesting experience for us. I have always loved the sound of bells ringing, but had never thought about how the bells are made or where they come from. And now I know.

Here’s a brief clip from Marinelli Foundaria. Enjoy!



2 Responses to “Marinelli Bell Foundry – Agnone”

  1. Jane July 13, 2014 at 9:39 AM #

    It is really amazing that the foundry still exists and provides tours. Such a treasure!


    • blogginginitaly July 13, 2014 at 10:09 AM #

      And such an unexpected one! Never knew a thing about it till we were in the area.


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