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Perhaps only in the Middle Ages were towers built and knocked down in a few years, as happened to the tower clock of Mercatale, in the middle of the 20th century.
We ﬁnd ourselves right after WWll; Piazza Vittorio Veneto, the main plaza of Mercatale, had never had an easily visible clock to tell its citizen what time it was. This upset much of the town’s population, since in those times few had a wristwatch or pocket watch.
From the Committee for the Liberation of Mercatale a “clock committee” was born, with the scope of providing the townspeople a public time-telling mechanism. T
aking part in the committee were, among others, doctor Carlo Marri, the town pharmacist, Ferruccio Caselli, shop keeper, Remo Barbetti, artisan.
After the war there was little money. Misery reigned. The problem for the committee was to ﬁnd funds for the clock as well as a tall structure to hold it. The committee organized lotteries and even a ball in “Gino” Nencioni’s (real name, Tito) Cinema Moderno.
Some money was scraped together by the end of the 1940’s, at least enough to build a tower on the left side of the church; a tower destined to hold the clock.
The most important part-the mechanism-was invented, built, and donated to Mercatale by Vincenzo Ceppatelli, an able Florentine watchmaker, who for years came to the town on vacation. The quadrants of the clock – two, one to the east, one to the west-are made of marble, built by an artisan, Aldo Manfredi, who had a shop in piazza del Popolo.
The clock and tower were there in the early 1950’s. The tower still wasn’t plastered, and the clock had hands only on the side facing west, making the time visible only from piazza Vittorio Veneto. This fact was always object of ironic comments from inhabitants of nearby towns, especially those of San Casciano.
In the meantime, the church’s facade was modernized, unfortunately, in poor taste, and shortly afterwards the clock tower was plastered. However, perhaps due to atmospheric agents, the clock hardly functioned. The designer and builder, Ceppatelli, got angry and publicly protested the little attention his work was accorded,
Then, around 1960, among general indifference (in the meantime the inhabitants were buying their own watches and alarm clocks) the clock was unmounted and the tower was knocked down for the redoing of the church facade. The tower and clock lasted less than 10 years… probably a record of… shortness!
Courtesy of L’Arsomiglio Fotografia