Ciucarun – Bollengo, Italy - Atlas Obscura


Bollengo, Italy

An abandoned bell tower in the middle of nowhere is the last testimony of a forgotten medieval village. 


This lonely bell tower, known as the Tower of Saint Martin, or “Il Ciucarun” by locals, is located in the middle of a wide open plain on the Serra Morenica, a vast morainic relief near Ivrea. The name “Ciucarun” comes from a term in local dialect meaning “big bell.”

The Romanesque bell tower, dating back to the 11th or 12th century, is the last remnant of the medieval village of Paerno and its church dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. Not much is known about the history of this town, whose villagers, along with the people living in other nearby settlements, were forced to move to the newly founded city of Bollengo in 1250. Soon, the whole town of Paerno was abandoned and the only remaining structures were the stone church and its bell tower.

The church continued to be used as the villagers were still devoted to the old building and the saint dedicatee. In 1477, the parish of the deteriorating church was suppressed and the building was then used only as an oratory. The structure was finally demolished in 1731, after an order by a local bishop reporting that it became a refuge for brigands and outlaws. Only the bell tower, stripped of its bells, remained as the last evidence of the existence of the lost village of Paerno.

Know Before You Go

From the town of Bollengo, outside Ivrea, take the Broglina road until you see a sign for the tower near a dirt road. Then continue on foot another 10 minutes along the trail, and a plateau opens up with a beautiful view of the tower and the mountains in the background. 

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January 24, 2019

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