The slow bells

Slow bells toll when someone dies in our village. The bells ring to announce the funeral and when the body is taken from the church for the last journey.

The bells rang slowly recently for Oriana, one of the lovely old ladies who lived in Ponte a Serraglio. I met her soon after I arrived in the village. She was always ready with a smile and a chat.

She was part of a group of oldish ladies who would gather in the morning for coffee and a good old chinwag.  Several of them are still at the bar every day and there is a cheery “Buongiorno” for me. I haven’t seen Oriana for some time and it appears that she spent the last days of her life in hospital.

There used to be quite a large group of old gentlemen at the bar every morning where they would solve the problems of the world for a few hours, before strolling off home for lunch. This group has dwindled to two or three. I find it very sad to watch them grow old and then disappear one day.

I went to the church to farewell Oriana. She will be missed.


I think it is a lovely tribute to a treasured member of the community. The slow bells allow time to think about the life that has been lived, and recall happy memories.

20 thoughts on “The slow bells

  1. Yes, Debra. I remember her and I have not seen her lately. Those groups are getting smaller and smaller… and the mourning, slow bells confirm it. May she rest in peace.

  2. Whether one believes in God or not, rituals such as the slow tolling of the Church bell bring comfort and dignity to such an occasion. Often the Catholic Church near to us tolls slow bells and I always pause whenever I hear them and wonder about the life that has ended. Ritual such as that lends important solemnity on such occasions.

  3. Whenever I see a group of older people I think of what their lives were like as they grew up wherever it was and the contributions they made in everything they did that made my life what it is today. We tend to forget that if not for these people our lives would be much different and I appreciate each and everyone of them being who they are! Sad to lose anyone at anytime my thoughts are with her family friends and acquaintances.what a beautiful sign of respect and honor to use the bells as a way of letting people know!

  4. I remember this lovely lady well, we first arrived in 1989 and I always looked at these lovely women and hoped I’d be as elegant, graceful and friendly as they were when I arrived to their age. May she rest in peace – sorely missed.

  5. She looks a beautiful lady. I agree with you Deb. It’s a lovely gesture the bells. I have always found the Italians much more in touch and ready to deal when it comes to matters of life and death. Like when there’s spontaneous applause outside the church after a funeral service…What do you think?

    • I think the Italians are very practical about life and death. My friend Tina remarked that she had lived a full life and it was her time to go. She had been unwell for some time, so while her friends were sad to see her go, they did not want her to suffer too much.

      • It’s so true. Increasingly matters of life and death and suffering seem off limits round here. It’s all about growing old disgracefully instead! Just another reason to love Italy I suppose.

  6. Love that group of ladies. They are always so nice, beautifully dressed and friendly even to perfect strangers. Sad there is now one less – though it is good to hear her friends feel she has lived a good life.
    I hope the tradition lives on, there is so much to learn from them that was never written down. At least not that I can find on the library or on the internet, in English I must admit.

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