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Italian town silenced historic bell to please tourists. Locals say they can’t sleep without it

<i>John Elk/The Image Bank RF/Getty Images</i><br/>The bell in the ancient clock tower is now silent from midnight to 7 a.m.
John Elk/The Image Bank RF/Getty Images
The bell in the ancient clock tower is now silent from midnight to 7 a.m.

By Julia Buckley and Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — A historic Italian bell tower was recently silenced during the night, in response to protests from B&B owners whose guests complained about the noise—but some locals are now complaining that they can’t sleep without the sound of the chimes.

A bell has tolled in the clock tower in the main square of the Tuscan town of Pienza for about 560 years. Construction of the buildings around the square began in 1459.

Manolo Garosi, mayor of Pienza, told CNN that the bell is now silent from midnight to 7 a.m. to conform to a 2017 noise pollution rule that requires silence during those hours.

“I had complaints from residents and owners of B&Bs, who are also residents,” he added. “The complaints started after we digitalized the sound of the bell striking and the clock 18 months ago.”

However, some of the town’s 2,100 inhabitants told state broadcaster RAI that the unfamiliar silence during the night is keeping them awake.

“We were born here, we used to hear it in the dead of night. In the absolute silence, it was a sign of life,” one local told RAI.

With its ancient buildings, narrow cobbled streets and hilltop position overlooking the rolling Tuscan landscape, Pienza has long been a magnet for tourists.

Now protected by UNESCO, the town’s historic center was redesigned by Pope Pius II in the late 15th century according to the principles of the Renaissance “ideal city.” As the first town shaped by these Renaissance ideals of urban design, Pienza—which Pius renamed in his own honor —holds a significant place in both Italian and global urban development.

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