By Ricky Skelton
When I did a presentation course at college, a fellow student bravely stood up in front of his peers and announced in a camp voice ‘Today, I’m going to tell you about campanology – which, for those of you who don’t know, is the study of bell-ringing.’ We sniggered greatly. I’d never met someone who was interested in such a thing before.

But I was young then. Opinions change with age. So maybe it is a sign of my age (I won’t say maturity) that one of my favourite things in Sampa is O Sino da Paz – The Peace Bell – in Praa Pateo do Colegio. I came across it by accident on a Saturday afternoon, never having heard of it before. The noise it makes is as dolorous as Big Ben or any other large bell when sounding alone, and it’s not particularly pretty to look at – a 2ft high bronze bell-shaped thing hanging from a stone frame. Nor is it ugly though. The only good thing about it really is that it just hangs there alone in the praa, next to the entrance to the Museu de Anchieta. Because it is situated as such, anyone can ring it! For free!

It has a small demolition ball dangling from a chain inside, and a rope hanging down to head height, making it look like some gladiator’s weapon. It is just begging to be struck, but nobody seemed at all interested in it. I was. Any chance to make a different noise and my eyes will light up. For once, there was nobody around to stop me. I read the blurb about why it was placed there, pushed the rope away, and then swung it as fast as I could towards myself.


Oh wow. What a miserably beautiful sound (or beautifully miserable sound even) resonated around the praa. The skatekids stopped and looked over. The students in the museum queue turned as one. They all stared at me, waiting, wondering in silence. Perhaps it just seemed silent because my ears were ringing for far longer than the bell, having been so close. My brain was too. By the time it stopped, everybody was getting on with their lives again, but for a few seconds they had been all mine!

After all these years, I have some appreciation of the art of ringing a bell, but not to make a tune, just one big noise, like a gong. Once is more dramatic. The world peace I had wished for (like any good contestant in a beauty pageant) doesn’t appear to have come true yet. The world may not become a better place for me or you ringing that bell, but I guarantee that you’ll walk away from it feeling better.

You can visit Ricky’s blog at

Previous articles by Ricky:

Around Brazil: Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to Porto Seguro
Around Brazil: Cristo Redentor
Understanding Brazil: The Sellers
Around Brazil: Ilha de Gigoia
Brazil Journeys: São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro
Understanding Brazil: Dogs Part 2
Brazil: A Lie-In in Downtown São Paulo?
The Best Job in Brazil: Ankle Specialist?
Understanding Brazil: Dogs
Brazilian Places: Ilha do Santa Catarina (Floripa)
Classic Brazilian Journeys: South to Florianopolis
Understanding Brazil – The Shower
Brazil: Boats on the Amazon
Brazil: Understanding Novelas
Brazil: Bus fires in São Paulo – always a bad thing?

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