Brunello Cucinelli

After four years, the bells of the Civic Tower in Norcia sounded again for the first time on Dec. 8, a day of celebration in Italy dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. The Civic Tower of the Town Hall in Norcia, a jewel city near Perugia in the Umbria region, was restored thanks to Brunello Cucinelli, his company and its employees, as well as Marc Benioff, founder, president and chief executive officer of Salesforce.

The Civic Tower was built in 1700 and is part of Norcia’s cultural and artistic heritage. It was damaged during the earthquake that devastated Central Italy and killed almost 300 people at the end of August 2016.

“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 center 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, who attended the celebratory event on Tuesday. Video messages by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Dario Franceschini, Italy’s Minister of Cultural Heritage, were streamed for the occasion.

“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,” Cucinelli said. “As Benedictines, they are the current symbol of the living testimony of the great European saint.”

Cucinelli also praised Benioff’s contribution, “from far away, a lovable, enlightened man, a humanist, my dear friend,” he said, for his “strong and truly heartfelt display of help.” Benioff in 2017 and in 2018 asked Cucinelli to be a guest at Dreamforce, Salesforce’s annual tech conference in San Francisco, and the two men have forged a relationship that has developed into the idea of “humanizing technology.”

Cucinelli also celebrated the citizens of Norcia for their resilience and for deciding to continue to live in the town, “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.” Cucinelli has strong links with the territory as his company’s headquarters are based about 62 miles from Norcia, in the medieval hamlet of Solomeo, which the entrepreneur has fully restored. 

Nicola Alemanno, the mayor of Norcia, said the Civic Tower of the Town Hall “represents one of the most meaningful symbols of our city’s identity.” Cucinelli’s support “has contributed in a decisive and concrete way to sustaining our hope of seeing our city rebuilt better and safer than before,” he said. The amount invested in the restoration was not revealed.

As reported, Cucinelli had also pledged to support the restoration in Norcia of the Bénédictine monastery adjacent to the 13th-century basilica, which was badly damaged, with its Gothic facade all that was left standing.

There is a special link between Cucinelli and the monastery as the prior, Cassian Folsom, who arrived in Norcia from Central America in 2000, is the Italian entrepreneur’s spiritual father and has been on the board of the Brunello Cucinelli company for years. In fact, Cucinelli first helped restore the monastery upon the arrival of Cassian, after 180 years of neglect.

The Norcia monastery itself survived the quake and its aftershocks because of its earthquake-resistant structure, and there were no victims among the 15 monks.

In the past, Cucinelli invested in the preservation of the region’s other cultural assets, including donating 1 million euros to help restore the famous Etruscan Arch of Perugia, which dates back to the third century B.C.