The origins of our experience
Fonderia De Poli of Vittorio Veneto, founded in far-off 1453, is one of the oldest foundries in Italy. Throughout its long history it has occupied several sites, including one in Venice and one in Udine. Venice the workshop was “al ponte dei Dai, all’insegna della Madonna” (on the Dai bridge, under the banner of Our Lady) in Calle dei Fabbri, where not only bells were cast, but also mortars, pestles and cannon muzzles. In 1481 De Poli cast a bell for the Duomo in Ceneda (now Vittorio Veneto) and in 1606 a bell for the Church of San Giusto in Trieste. Fonderia De Poli is mentioned in documents in Venice throughout the eighteenth century. At Basalghelle (TV) the 28-metre bell tower for St. George’s Church, built in 1869, hosts 3 x 16,100 kg bells by De Poli, one of which was awarded a prize at the 1869 Rome Exhibition. This fact saved it from the bell requisitioning raids of Austro-German troops in 1918.
A special peal was manufactured by De Poli for the Trieste town hall, designed in 1873 by architect Giuseppe Bruni. The building features an imposing tower with a truncated pyramid roof that holds a clock, with a bell flanked by two cast zinc mechanised pageboys. Their articulated arms are moved by a clock mechanism to raise the hammer that strikes the hours, the quarters being struck by a different hammer. The two automatons, designed by Bruni, were modelled in June 1875 by sculptor Fausto Asteo (1840- 1901) from Ceneda (now Vittorio Veneto), a lecturer at the Venice Academy of Fine Arts, and were cast in the De Poli brothers’ foundry at Ceneda. The automatons arrived in Trieste in November of the same year and were placed on the tower on 5 and 7 January 1876. They began regular service at 12 noon on 14 January.
The people of Trieste call them affectionately Michez and Jachez, i.e. Michael and James, presumably referring to two well-known judges in the city.