by Stephen Garner

Brunello Cucinelli, his employees, and Marc Benioff (the founder and CEO of Salesforce) unveiled the newly-restored Civic Tower in Norcia, Italy on Tuesday. The tower, which was damaged during an earthquake that hit central Italy in 2016, was built in 1700 and is part of Norcia’s cultural and artistic heritage. Today’s unveiling ceremony took place at the Piazza San Benedetto celebrating the recovery of the iconic tower.

“Our beautiful Norcia, the town where Saint Benedict was born, and which we, therefore, like to call ‘Citadel of the Soul’; Norcia, which for this reason is the spiritual centre of Europe; Norcia, which not long ago was shaken by a blind earthquake, is reborn today through its bell tower, a living symbol of the city, a sign full of joy and hope for all of us and for the whole world looking at us.,” said Cucinelli. “I would also like to pay tribute to my dear friend Father Cassian, a man with a kind soul, of great spirituality; it was him who brought the monks back to Norcia in 2000 after 183 years. As Benedictines, they are the current symbol of the living testimony of the great European saint.

Today, in advance of the swallows coming back in spring, we will hear its bells singing again with harmony, the voice of the city, and their chimes will speak to our hearts with a voice of joy and confidence, as if we were hearing them for the first time.

Many beautiful souls have contributed to this happiness: from far away, a lovable, enlightened man, a humanist, my dear friend Marc Benioff, a strong and truly heartfelt display of help; and finally, we too have contributed our humble gift.

But in the end, it was above all you, citizens and children of the spiritual Citadel, who made this rebirth possible, you who – albeit in pain – courageously upheld faith, you who did not leave the places of your history, because as true Umbrians you knew how to hold your heads high and keep the plough of life straight, and it is just fair that you are given the greatest merit on this day of hope.”

Nicola Alemanno, Mayor of Norcia, also commented: “With great excitement and emotion we have heard once again the solemn tolling of the bells and the ‘big bell’ of the Civic Tower of the Town Hall, which represents one of the most meaningful symbols of our city’s identity.

For someone living in Norcia, walking onto Piazza San Benedetto and being met by the bell tower is a relief for both eyes and soul; the same applies to the statue of our Patron Saint, which was left unscathed by the violence of the earthquake as if to tell us that we had to start rebuilding from here.

We can now begin to regain possession of our ‘living room’. Thank you very much to Brunello Cucinelli for the attention he has always paid us. With his support, he has contributed in a decisive and concrete way to sustaining our hope of seeing our city rebuilt better and safer than before.

From Norcia today we are sending out a very strong and concrete message: it is possible to rebuild in a reasonable time. Our commitment as administrators is to ensure that our fellow citizens soon return to their homes, and in the past few months, we have charted the way forward for them, working around the clock with great determination. We know what still needs to be done, the clock of the Tower and the chimes of the bells will once again mark our daily life and the times of reconstruction, the absolute protagonist in 2021.”