Associazione Piazza San Marco

The collapse of the Bell Tower

In July 1902, there was a dangerous build-up of silt on the north wall of the Bell Tower. Throughout the following days, the amount increased until, on the morning of Monday 14th July at 9.47, the Bell Tower collapsed (other sources indicate 9.52 as the time of the collapse.) There were no victims and, given the position of the building, the damage was fairly limited. The porch at the base of the Bell Tower was completely destroyed plus a corner of the library of Sansovino. The 'piera del bando', the trunk of column in porphyry (a type of reddish stone) on which The Republic laws were sworn, protected a corner of the Basilica of San Marco from the rubble, and saved it from collapsing. In the evening, the council committee discussed the reconstruction in an emergency session and allocated 500.000 Lire for the work. It was during his speech at the time of the placing of the first stone on 25th April 1903, that the mayor, Filippo Grimani, pronounced his famous phrase - 'where was it and how was it'- which became the motto for the reconstruction. Work continued until the 6th March 1912. The new Bell Tower was inaugurated on the 25th April 1912, on Saint Mark's Day.