The bell towers in Venice are 84 and the best known is certainly the Campanile di San Marco which is about 100 meters high. On its top there is a golden angel, whose revolving wings indicate the direction in which the wind blows. It stands, isolated, in a corner of Piazza San Marco in front of the basilica. Of simple shape, it consists of a brick barrel, above which is the bell cell. The bell tower collapsed on itself on July 14, 1902, (without causing any victim). The loggia at the base of the bell tower and a corner of the Sansovino library were completely destroyed. The “pietra del bando”, a squat trunk of a porphyry column, on which at the time of the republic the laws were banned, the corner of the San Marco basilica protected from the rubble, saving it from the collapse.
It was rebuilt in less than 10 years and inaugurated on 25 April 1912, the day of the commemoration of St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice.
The bells placed in the bell tower of San Marco are five whose names are linked to the occasions in which they were formerly used: the “Maleficio” or Renghiera announced the death sentences in Piazzetta; the “Marangona” or Carpentiera also called Campanon, marked the start and end time of the work of the carpenters (or marangoni) of the Arsenale; the “mezzana” sounded at midday; the “Pregadi” announced to the senators that the time of their meetings in the Palazzo Ducale had arrived; the “Trottera” invited the nobles of Venice to trot their horses so as not to arrive late for their summons in the Palazzo Ducale.
The “Marangona”, the largest bell, was out of curiosity the only one on all that was not destroyed by the collapse of the Campanile di San Marco.
In the past, the base of the bell tower was surrounded by taverns and wooden shops where it was refreshed. From these derives the Venetian way of saying andemo a bever n’ombra (let’s drink a ombra = shadow), which means we go to bever en goto de vin all’ombra del campanil (let’s drink a glass of wine in the shadow of the bell tower ).