Priest fined over tolling bells in Italy’s Florence

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A priest in Italy whom residents claim has been ringing his parish bells more than 200 times a day has been fined and ordered to go easy on the chimes.

Don Leonardo Guerri from the Santa Maria a Coverciano church in Florence has been feuding for four years with neighbors, the Corriere Fiorentino newspaper reported Friday.

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Residents of the eastern enclave of Florence say the chimes rung every day between 8am and 9pm for years prevent them from working, relaxing or sleeping.

The worst comes on holidays, they say, when the bells peal every half hour.

After four years of petitions, legal proceedings and tests of noise pollution levels, the regional agency for environmental protection (ARPAT) in Tuscany decided to crack down, fining Guerri 2,000 euros ($2,225), the paper reported.

The priest will still be able to ring the bells, but only for the call to Mass and the last service of the day at 6pm.

Contacted by AFP, the priest declined comment.

Faced with the growing number of bell tower disputes throughout Tuscany, the Archbishop of Florence, Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, sent a directive in 2014 to his diocese aimed at controlling noise levels.

He asked priests to “avoid straining the sense of Christian devotion” of local residents living close to bell towers.

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