Nizza Monferrato’s clock tower, incorporated into the town hall building, is one of its most important sights.
Known to the people of Nizza (the Nicesi) as “El Campanòn” (The Big Bell), it was built with a quadrangular floor plan in the heart of the city, which was defended by walls that until the middle of the 17th century were heavily fortified. Over the centuries, the tower underwent numerous renovations and adaptations to the taste of different eras. In 1880, following a public competition, it was decided to redesign the tower according to the neo-Gothic style, with the formation of crenellations and the construction of a staircase to access the terrace.
When Nizza Monferrato was besieged by the Savoyards, in 1613, bombards and culverins were used to batter the city, but the Nicesi remained stubbornly resistant. A cannon ball can still be seen embedded in the wall of the north side of the tower.
Inside the tower is a large bronze bell which still marks the hours. In accordance with tradition, it is rung by hammer on St. Stephen’s day to recall an ancient event.
The bell, already put to the test in 1913 when it was used to celebrate Vittorio Buccelli’s third election as deputy, broke when it was rung to celebrate the end of the Great War. It was recast with the addition of bronze from a mortar donated by the freed City of Trieste, and on 17 October 1919 was reinstalled in the tower.
Protected in a small room, free from dust and moisture, the marvellous workings of the tower’s clock have been keeping time for almost two centuries. The invaluable mechanism was made by the award-winning firm Granaglia & C. of Turin.
13 May: Castelli Aperti, guided tours, and "Nizza is Barbera", Wine Festival.
Open by appointment for tourists and groups.
Guided tours in english by appointment.