Com’era, dov’era – the rise and fall (and rise again) of St Mark’s Bell Tower



The Campanile (bell tower) of St Mark’s Piazza in Venice is one of the city’s most iconic symbols. Towering over the stunning façade of St Mark’s Basilica, the bell tower was originally built in the 800’s to serve as a lookout over a nearby dock.

Taking some 3 centuries to complete, it stood only a couple of hundred years before damaged by fire in the 1480s and again by an earthquake in the following century.

Compared to the time it took to complete the tower, this time the repairs were done relatively quickly – only about 30 years or so.

Continuing fires, many owing to lightening strikes, continued to plague the tower until a lightening rod was put in place in the late 1700s.

Due to the subsiding foundations of Venice, in 1902 a large crack appeared and spread until causing the tower to completely collapse into a spectacular mass of rubble in the middle of St Mark’s Square.

But the determined Venetian locals decided on that very same day to rebuild their beloved tower com’era, dov’era – as it was, where it was.

Just one decade later, the Campanile was reopened on the occasion of the Festa di San Marco, which happened to fall (excuse the pun) one millennium after the initial foundations are said to have been laid.

Today, a great thing to do in Venice is to go to the top of the tower – particularly since you can do so in a rather modern and comfortable elevator these days!

From the top, you can look out over St Mark’s Square and its amazing Basilica di San Marco, over to the Doge’s Palace, the iconic columns and out to the surrounding waters.

To see the sites of Venice with a great tour guide, we have a great Venice tour discount package. In one glorious afternoon, have a ride in a gondola on our small-group Original Gondola Tour.

Visit St Mark’s on a guided tour and have our expert tour guide take you on a tour of the Doge’s Palace. Conclude your day with a relaxing ride on the Grand Canal in a motor launch on the small-group Grand Canal tour.

These Venice tours are also part of our super-discounted Grand Italy Tour discounted tour package including small-group tours in Rome and small-group tours in Florence.

To explore other areas of Italy, we have great tours in Florence, Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more.

Visit the Artviva Tours website for more wonderful things to see and do in Italy (besides, of course, just meeting the lovely Artviva staff!), or email us on for more information.

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  1. Rome is my favorite place in the world! I loved your tours and cant wait to visit again in Florence and Venice next time!

  2. Hi there, just met you virtually while preparing for a holiday to Abruzzo. We start on Sunday. Thanks for introducing me to some aspects of life in the area, which I feel will be a wonderful break from English life for us. So there’ll be a bit more English spoken in Abruzzo during the next couple of weeks!