The duke of the bells


Testo in italiano



The bizarre story of the bells of love

Once upon a time there was a Duke who owned a village where he lived with his wife, children and peasants in his service. Then he ran out of money, fell in love with a hostess, he took her to the village, he married her, and rang the bells when they made love, the house burned down and the Duke went under the ground!

We are in Gualtieri Sicaminò, northern Sicily, a small village in the hills, right in front of the splendid Aeolian islands.

Here there was a Duke that every time he made love with his beloved American hostess, 35 years younger than him, he rang the bells of the family church that he had connected, through a long rope, to the apartment where he lived with the attractive American, right next to the castle where the ex-wife lived.

And the whole village of Gualtieri Sicaminò, a few kilometers lower, when they heard the bells, they had a good laugh.


The Duke addresses the people!

From the show The Duke of bells, Italian Public Network. Author: Giovanni Vallone, President of Splendid Sicily

He: She was a beautiful woman, she wasn’t even 20 years old, and the Duke introduced her to the people with  a stump speech in the square


Nar: Do you remember the duke?

He: Yes

Nar: Is this story true that every time he made love with his young lover he rang the bells of the village?

He: Yes, of course.

Nar: Good morning  are you from Gualtieri Sicaminò

He: And where am I  from Rome?

Nar: But this story  of the bells is it true?

He: Of course it’s true?

Nar: You also remember his lover

He: The American, of course!

Nar: Have you ever heard the bells ringing

He:  Of course I heard them!


He: He was spiteful to his wife who lived next door and every time he made love with the American, he rang the bells

He: I was in Germany in those days and in the German newspaper it was written:  every time I ring the bells I make you a cornuto which means cheated on!

From the show The Duke of bells, Italian Public Network. Author: Giovanni Vallone, President of Splendid Sicily

Nar:  Good morning Prince

He: I’m Francesco Alliata, I was born in Palermo in 1919. He enjoyed telling this story of the bells, he did it in an absolute polite and in a totally cool way.

Instead the wife, the duchess Magda, beloved by the people, did not laugh at all.

This is the bizarre story of Duke Avarna, who spent his life writing poems, opening bottles of champagne and … ringing the bells of his apartment!



Here we are in Sicamino: wives and lovers and Barabba too

Here we are in Sicaminò, the village of which the Duke was the owner but that now is  in shreds.

Splendid Tip: Sicily is full of feudal villages, often abandoned, and around the master’s house  where also  built  the houses of the people  in  his service. The powerful Sicilian aristocracy took root on the island since the arrival of the Normans, in the 11th century. Among castles and feudal villages the powerful nobles ruled over the people.

In the village of Sicaminò the people worked  in the fields for the Duke, and sent their children to the school named after the Duke’s wife: the beloved Duchess Magda.

There was also a shared oven, where now we slip in, and where the peasant women once made bread and it is said that the Duchess Magda always put some money in the pockets of the women of the village.

There was also a beautiful church where all together, nobles and peasants, gathered to pray.

Then everything vanished: the Duke was reduced without a penny!

Today only one person lives there, known as the Mayor.

He lives with Barabba, a rooster.

He: The ones who lived here… What’s the  matter Barabba? … as I was saing, we’re very attached to this place. Now There is no one anymore, before it was full of people. Wait, Barabba wants a cookie.

Nar: Is that Barabbas’s wife?

He: Wife, lover …

Nar: Ah, but then this is  an habit of this place! Wives and lovers …

He: The Duchess Magda was a special person, good to everyone.

Nar: And the American hostess, Tava, do you remember her?

He: Yes, of course. She Was beautiful but I didn’t get to know her so well.

He: All of us children went to school there. The duchess was a teacher.

The Duke, as mentioned, was namd Giuseppe but as a good aristocrat, he called his  first-born Carlo and then went wild with the names of the other two wealthy children: Albereda and Guiscardo.

Noble names, not like ours!


From the show The Duke of bells, Italian Public Network. Author: Giovanni Vallone, President of Splendid Sicily

She: I was very attached to both my father and my mother, I loved them both. Sicaminò has been my whole life, I know every tree, every stone. We made hay, oil, wine, breeding. It was great to live all together. My father was a very loving man.

Everything was quiet and calm until one day… Zac!, the Duke Giuseppe Avarna, meets a beautiful girl, an American hostess in a temporary stop working in Rome where even our Duke was.

She was 23 and he was 58.


Giuseppe Avarna was also a fine intellectual  and with Tava he draws an invincible trifecta: the magic of a poet, the elegance of a nobleman and the passion of a Sicilian.


Tava, the beautiful hostess of planes, collapses in the arms of our Duke.

Hers will be an eternal, crazy, passionate love.


And so, as mentioned, the two decide to move to the village of Sicaminò, in an apartment that was exactly next to the family chapel, adjacent to the castle.

And they transform it into their alcove of love.

They even got married.


We made the bells ring again: 20 years later


It is a story of love and passion that the two newlyweds live intensely.

Tava  comes and goes because of her  job as a hostess and the Duke, now maintained by his young wife, spends his days between one bar and another, not so much for drinking but for chatting.

He: One day I asked him  excuse me Duke but how do you find yourself today driving with a car so poorly reduced, tied with a  wire. And he said to me: I don’t care, I’ve already enjoyed  the Maserati and  the Ferrari. Yes, I really  think she maintained him.

He: This was his favorite bar. That was our table. I always offered , of course. It was a pleasure for me to talk to him.


The Duke was just a bizarre type, with this story of the bells  that he rang every time  that they made love.

And we, 20 years later, make them ring again.



A tragical-comical life

But the Duke Giuseppe Avarna was one of those characters that Giulio Verne’s pen would have magnificently figured and it was so that on  February  21 1999 his apartment caught on  fire with him inside, making   his life an eternal  tragic-comical .

Tava was out for work when she heard the news



And  that’s how, Duke Avarna leaves us.

It is said that, on the verge of dying, he threw his poems from the window in a desperate attempt to save them, adding this anecdote to his romantic life.

A bit like Empedocle, the Sicilian philosopher who threw himself into the crater of Etna and the volcano gave back to the world, erupting , his famous sandals.


And then, at the end of this story, the question is: Do you think  that the Duke Avarna did well or did wrong?.

And above all: we hope that you want to visit the village of Sicaminò

A Splendid Sicily everyone!





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