07 - The belfry of San Biagio Church

From the bridge over the Aquila River you can admire the belfry of Saint Biagio, now leaning slightly, which was built around 1463 on one of the semi-circular barbicans guarding the southern part of the Medieval walls. Giovanni I Del Carretto especially wanted the bell tower to be built and to date it is the main surviving element of the Medieval church, together with the polygonal apse which protrudes from the walls.
We know that in 1463, Bartolomeo Mutano, the master stonemason, who was born in Milan but lived in Finale, was presented with a plot of land by the town walls as payment for the corner stones he quarried from Monticello and carved into blocks for the bell tower. We also know that the plot of land he received, had originally been donated by Giovanni I Del Carretto to the church rectors for the construction of a bell tower.
This octagonal belfry has three tiers of double-lancet windows, where the glass panes are divided vertically into two parts by small slender columns. Above the small arches supported by the columns are the so-called oculi. These are small round openings that serve the purpose of further decorating the structure. At the top and bottom of these windows there is a flight of blind arches surmounted by a dentil-shaped cornice moulding. The tower is then surmounted by a tall spire circled by a banister which juts out over a wide ledge.
Despite tending towards Renaissance forms, this campanile is one of the finest and most original examples of late-gothic architecture in Northern Italy.
The harmonious arrangement of chiaroscuro, the symmetry of the windows and the sharpness of the architectural volumes, together with the almost exclusive use of local stone in construction, allows for mature architectural language.
Two 15th-century ‘bacini’ or earthenware bowls have been inserted into the panels of the first tier of double-lancet windows as decoration. One is a late-Andalusian or Valencian Hispanic or Moorish production with lustre and pseudo-cobalt blue epigraphic Islamic-style decorations. The second is a Central-Italian polychrome majolica plate decorated with the typical ‘Persian palm’ pattern.