Assessment of the Restoration
| The bell tower is reconstructed|
“ The bell-tower was reconstructed, and well-reconstructed by the service of historical monuments at the end of the 19th century”(3) wrote Geneviève Moracchini, thus paying an homage to the contractor Bartoli(4) and thus she followed the former commentators who all gave the date “end of the 19th century”; including the author of the identification sheet in the data base “Mérimée. One can suppose that the date was conditioned by the classification as a historical monument in 1886 or by the first plans drawn by the architect Ballu thirteen or fourteen years earlier. Well-reconstructed, but with a serious doubt on the pyramidal shape of the roof. It must have been the aesthetic choice of Ballu who introduced contraband neo-Roman roofing instead of the flat notched roofing of Pisaean tradition.
Legends are never negligible, they can almost always teach us something; but what?
According to a tradition transmitted orally for nearly a thousand years, the architect of that time, Maestro Maternato built an admirable seven story bell-tower on the same site. To insure themselves to be the only town with such a beautiful monument, the habitants of Carbini decides to eliminate the constructor. Alerted by an indiscretion, Maestro Maternato found aid in his native town where his family captured members every of the delegation as hostages. While awaiting a happy outcome, Maternato broke down and reconstructed part of the bell-tower every day until all the hostages were liberated and he himself paid. The tradition of seven floors could symbolize the proverbial expressions in the Corsican language where everything is counted by seven.(5)
The number 7 has magical and biblical connotations. It may also be a tentative to compete with the tower of Pisa, which in fact is the bell-tower of the cathedral whose seven stories are contemporary to the bell-tower of Carbini. Or perhaps the seven story form makes reference to the archaic phallic obsession of the pale which sufficed to indicate the location of a pagan temple.
As for the supposed dimensions of a bell-tower with seven floors, the evaluation of Geneviève Moracchini, who estimated its height at 25 meters, is underestimated because the three actual stories measure almost thirty meters. With seven stories and a flat roof, the bell-tower would measure at least forty meters high, which is unlikely considering that the square base is only 4,25 meters to a side. Furthermore, such a thin and disproportional bell-tower would not be in conformity with the equilibrium and harmony of the rest of the site.
Albert Ballu may have hesitated before placing a carved stone cross on top of the edifice. Is the cross there to justify the pyramidal roofing or to emphasize its incongruity?
Nevertheless the lighting-rod (costing 300 francs) is a welcome addition which was really lacking.
The church is restored
After the reconstruction of the cornices and the carpentry, the roofing is posed. All evidence seems to prove that the original roofing made of ‘lauzes' ( leaf-thin granite; in corsican teghji) similar to an apse roofing mixed with gray granite was too expensive for the budget. A roof of lauzes would have necessitated a more important budget to pay for the raw material, the transport, the shaping, the artisan's work, the reinforcement necessary to support the weight of the granite, and the adapted technique making it waterproof. Albert Ballu may have made an error of judgement. It is too late to blame him or to put the blame on the ministerial services who were responsible for this important restoration. Perhaps they both had hind thoughts hoping that the errors would be rectified subsequently.
In 1977, under the auspices of Yarmola, head architect of Corsica and the enterprise J. J. Nicolai of Furiani, there was a project to consolidate the foundations and to make an authentic lauze roofing. In late 1977, the archives contained no record of estimations or correspondence of the project. A letter was addressed to M. Yarmola demanding more ample information but he never answered. He died soon after.
Sixty years after the restoration, consolidations were necessary. The anchors of the tie-beams had been replaced in 1933, but a lateral wall was bending on its basis and ferro-concrete was evoked as a solution.
In March 1934, under the authority of Albert Chauvel (architect of historical monuments) a zone “non aedificandi” around the monument.
In 1939, in the belfry of the tower, the carpentry in chestnut, an inputrescible ? wood having suffered from the weight and the swinging of the bells, had probably reached its limits. Not sure. The wood had been provided by Carbini. Perhaps a defect in the preliminary drying caused the damage. It was necessary to remediate. Therefore, in order to repair the carpentry, the three bells were unhinged. A ceremony took place in honor of the re- installment of the bells.
At this occasion, Dominique Bartoli, the 76- year-old builder of the belfry, went to Carbini where he was invited to participate at the ceremony and perhaps to give some last-minute advice.
With an intense emotion, the man of arts rediscovered his memories, whatever they may have been.(6)
Note 3 : In Les Eglises Romanes de Corse (2 vol.) thesis; Paris CNRS, 1967.
It is a thesis of art history (Doctor's Degree) which does not confer the qualification of archeologist. G. Moracchini-Mazel, controversial personality, can be credited to have resuscitated the interest of Corsicans for their architectural patrimony, and in particular of local representatives who had mainly monetary interest. On the other hand, she was the ‘black sheep' of archeologists who reproached her hasty datings and inopportune excavations . “Neopolitan slices” (J. Jehasse). A rebellious temperament, all in all!
Note 4: A certain Joseph Bartoli, of no relation to the contractor, worked on the building site as a stone-mason.
Note 5: The text of this paragraph, written in 1997 for another use, was used without my knowledge, without mention of the author (in addition, enriched by a solecism) by Alexandre Marcellesi, the famous “local historian” who does not have more regard for intellectual property than for the truth. This text is used abusively in a promotional tourist pamphlet in 2009 on the topic of the Giovannali.
Note 6: When I was a child, I accompanied my grandfather to this ceremony. I have a blurred memory as if I had been forgotten in the middle of a desert where some people agitated in the air.
Dominique Bartoli, à Sainte-Lucie, au début des années 1930