1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Campanile

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CAMPANILE, the bell tower attached to the churches and town-halls in Italy (from campana, a bell). Bells are supposed to have been first used for announcing the sacred offices by Pope Sabinian (604), the immediate successor to St Gregory; and their use by the municipalities came with the rights granted by kings and emperors to the citizens to enclose their towns with fortifications, and assemble at the sound of a great bell. It is to the Lombard architects of the north of Italy that we are indebted for the introduction and development of the campanile, which, when used in connexion with a sacred building, is a feature peculiar to Christian architecture—Christians alone making use of the bell to gather the multitude to public worship. The campanile of Italy serves the same purpose as the tower or steeple of the churches in the north and west of Europe, but differs from it in design and position with regard to the body of the church. It is almost always detached from the church, or at most connected with it by an arcaded passage. As a rule also there is never more than one campanile to a church, with a few exceptions, as in S. Ambrogio, Milan; the cathedral of Novara; S. Abbondio, Como; S. Antonio, Padua; and some of the churches in south Italy and Sicily. The design differs entirely from the northern type; it never has buttresses, is very tall and thin in proportion to its height, and as a rule rises abruptly from the ground without base or plinth mouldings undiminished to the summit; it is usually divided by string-courses into storeys of nearly equal height, and in north and central Italy the wall surface is decorated with pilaster strips and arcaded corbel strings. Later, the square tower was crowned with an octagonal turret, sometimes with a conical roof, as in Cremona and Modena cathedrals. As a rule the openings increase in number and dimensions as they rise, those at the top therefore giving a lightness to the structure, while the lower portions, with narrow slits only, impart solidity to the whole composition.

The earliest examples are those of the two churches of S. Apollinare in Classe (see Basilica, fig. 8) and S. Apollinare Nuovo at Ravenna, dating from the 6th century. They are circular, of considerable height, and probably were erected as watch towers or depositories for the treasures of the church. The next in order are those in Rome, of which there are a very large number in existence, dating from the 8th to the 11th century. These towers are square and in several storeys, the lower part quite plain till well above the church to which they are attached. Above this they are divided into storeys by brick cornices carried on stone corbels, generally taken from ancient buildings, the lower storeys with blind arcades and the upper storeys with open arcades. The earliest on record was one connected with St Peter’s, to the atrium of which, in the middle of the 8th century, a bell-tower overlaid with gold was added. One of the finest is that of S. Maria-in-Cosmedin, ascribed to the 8th or 9th century. In the lower part of it are embedded some ancient columns of the Composite Order belonging to the Temple of Ceres. The tower is 120 ft. high, the upper part divided into seven storeys, the four upper ones with open arcades, the bells being hung in the second from the top. The arches of the arcades, two or three in number, are recessed in two orders and rest on long impost blocks (their length equal to the thickness of the wall above), carried by a mid-wall shaft. This type of arcade or window is found in early German work, except that, as a rule, there is a capital under the impost block. Rome is probably the source from which the Saxon windows were derived, the example in Worth church being identically the same as those in the Roman campanili. In the campanile of S. Alessio there are two arcades in each storey, each divided with a mid-wall shaft. Among others, those of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, S. Lorenzo in Lucina, S. Francesca Romana, S. Croce in Gerusalemme, S. Giorgio in Velabro (fig. 1), S. Cecilia, S. Pudenziana, S. Bartolommeo in Isola (982), S. Silvestro in Capite, are characteristic examples. On some of the towers are encrusted plaques of marble or of red or green porphyry, enclosed in a tile or moulded brick border; sometimes these plaques are in majolica with Byzantine patterns.

The early campanili of the north of Italy are of quite another type, the north campanile of S. Ambrogio, Milan (1129), being decorated with vertical flat pilaster strips, four on each face, and horizontal arcaded corbel strings. Of earlier date (879), the campanile of S. Satiro at Milan is in perfect preservation; it is divided into four storeys by arched corbel tables, the upper storey having a similar arcade with mid-wall shaft to those in Rome. One of the most notable examples in north Italy is the campanile of Pomposa near Ferrara.

From a photograph by Alinari.

Fig. 1.—Campanile of S. Giorgo in Velabro, Rome.

It is of immense height and has nine storeys crowned with a lofty conical spire, the wall face being divided vertically with pilaster strips and horizontally with arcaded corbel tables,—this campanile, the two towers of S. Antonio, Padua, and that of S. Gottardo, Milan, of octagonal plan, being among the few which are thus terminated. In the campanile at Torcello we find an entirely different treatment: doubly recessed pilaster-strips divide each face into two lofty blind arcades rising from the ground to the belfry storey, over 100 ft. high, with small slits for windows, the upper or belfry storey having an arcade of four arches on each front. This is the type generally adopted in the campanili of Venice, where there are no string-courses.
From a photograph by Brogi.
Fig. 2.—Campanile of St Mark’s, Venice.
The campanile of St Mark’s was of similar design, with four lofty blind arcades on each face. The lower portion, built in brick, 162 ft. high, was commenced in 902 but not completed till the middle of the 12th century. In 1510 a belfry storey was added with an open arcade of four arches on each face, and slightly set back from the face of the tower above was a mass of masonry with pyramidal roof, the total height being 320 ft. On the 14th of July 1902 the whole structure collapsed; its age, the great weight of the additions made in 1510, and probably the cutting away inside of the lower part, would seem to have been the principal contributors to this disaster, as the pile foundations were found to be in excellent condition.

In central Italy the two early campanili at Lucca return to the Lombard type of the north, with pilaster strips and arcaded corbel strings, and the same is found in S. Francesco (Assisi), S. Frediano (Lucca), S. Pietro-in-Grado and S. Michele-in-Orticaia (Pisa), and S. Maria-Novella (Florence). The campanile of S. Niccola, Pisa, is octagonal on plan, with a lofty blind arcade on each face like those in Venice, but with a single string-course halfway up. The gallery above is an open eaves gallery like those in north Italy.

In southern Italy the design of the campanile varies again. In the two more important examples at Bari and Molfetta, there are two towers in each case attached to the east end of the cathedrals. The campanili are in plain masonry, the storeys being suggested only by blind arches or windows, there being neither pilaster strips nor string-courses. The same treatment is found at Barletta and Caserta Vecchia; in the latter the upper storey has been made octagonal with circular turrets at each angle, and this type of design is followed at Amalfi, the centre portion being circular instead of octagonal and raised much higher.

In Palermo the campanile of the Martorana, of which the two lower storeys, decorated with three concentric blind pointed arches on each face, probably date from the Saracenic occupation, has angle turrets on the two upper storeys. The upper portions of the campanile of the cathedral have similar angle turrets, which, crowned with conical roofs, group well with the central octagonal spires of the towers. The two towers of the west front of the cathedral at Cefalu resemble those of Bari and Molfetta as regards their treatment.

The campanili of S. Zenone, Verona, and the cathedrals of Siena and Prato, differ from those already mentioned in that they owe their decoration to the alternating courses of black and white marble. Of this type by far the most remarkable so far as its marble decoration is concerned is Giotto’s campanile at Florence, built in 1334. It measures 275 ft. high, 45 ft. square, and is encased in black, white and red marble, with occasional sculptured ornament.The angles are emphasized by octagonal projections, the panelling of which seems to have ruled that of the whole structure. There are five storeys, of which the three upper ones are pierced with windows; twin arcades side by side

From a photograph by Alinari.

Fig. 3.—Giotto’s Campanile, Florence.

The angles are emphasized by octagonal projections, the panelling of which seems to have ruled that of the whole structure. There are five storeys, of which the three upper ones are pierced with windows; twin arcades side by side in the two lower, and a lofty triplet window with tracery in the belfry stage. A richly corbelled cornice crowns the structure, above which a spire was projected by Giotto, but never carried out.

The loftiest campanile in Italy is that of Cremona, 396 ft. high. Though built in the second half of the 13th century, and showing therefore Gothic influence in the pointed windows of the belfry and two storeys below, and the substitution of the pointed for the semicircular arch of the arcaded corbel string-courses,

From a photograph by Alinari.

Fig. 4.—Campanile of the Palazzo del Signore, Verona

it follows the Lombard type in its general design, and the same is found in the campanile of S. Andrea, Mantua. In the 16th century an octagonal lantern in two strings crowned with a conical roof was added. Owing to defective foundations, some of the Italian campanili incline over considerably; of these leaning towers, those of the Garisendi and Asinelli palaces at Bologna form conspicuous objects in the town; the two more remarkable examples are the campanile of S. Martino at Este, of early Lombard type, and the leaning tower at Pisa, which was built by the citizens in 1174 to rival that of Venice. The Pisa tower is circular on plan, about 51 ft. in diameter and 172 ft. high. Not including the belfry storey, which is set back on the inner wall, it is divided into seven storeys all surrounded with an open gallery or arcade. (See Architecture, Plate I. fig. 62.) Owing to the sinking of the piles on the south side, the inclination was already noticed when the tower was about 30 ft. high, and slight additions in the height of the masonry on that side were introduced to correct the level, but without result, so that the works were stopped for many years and taken up again in 1234 under the direction of William of Innsbruck; he also attempted to rectify the levels by increasing the height of the masonry on the south side. At a later period the belfry storey was added. The inclination now

approaches 14 ft. out of the perpendicular. The outside is built entirely in white marble and is of admirable workmanship, but it is a question whether the equal subdivision of the several storeys is not rather monotonous. The campanili of the churches of S. Nicolas and S. Michele in Orticaia, both in Pisa, are also inclined to a slight extent.

The campanili hitherto described are all attached to churches, but there are others belonging to civic buildings some of which are of great importance. The campanile of the town hall of Siena rises to an enormous height, being 285 ft., and only 22 ft. wide; it is built in brick and crowned with a battlemented parapet carried on machicolation corbels, 16 ft. high, all in stone, and a belfry storey above set back behind the face of the tower. The campanile of the Palazzo Vecchio at Florence is similarly crowned, but it does not descend to the ground, being balanced in the centre of the main wall of the town hall. A third example is the fine campanile of the Palazzo-del-Signore at Verona, fig. 4, the lower portion built in alternate courses of brick and stone and above entirely in brick, rising to a height of nearly 250 ft., and pierced with putlog holes only. The belfry window on each face is divided into three lights with coupled shafts. An octagonal tower of two storeys rises above the corbelled eaves.

In the campanili of the Renaissance in Italy the same general proportions of the tower are adhered to, and the style lent itself easily to its decoration; in Venice the lofty blind arcades were adhered to, as in the campanile of the church of S. Giorgio dei Greci. In that of S. Giorgio Maggiore, however, Palladio returned to the simple brickwork of Verona, crowned with a belfry storey in stone, with angle pilasters and columns of the Corinthian order in antis, and central turret with spire above. In Genoa there are many examples; the quoins are either decorated with rusticated masonry or attenuated pilasters, with or without horizontal string-courses, always crowned with a belfry storey in stone and classic cornices, which on account of their greater projection present a fine effect.  (R. P. S.)