THE DUOMO OF FLORENCE: A STORY ABOUT THE FLOW OF TIMEMin. reading
A story about the flow of time in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore
In the centre of Florence, in the counterfaçade, above the door of the Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral there is a big liturgical clock that, from 1443 has told the time in a very different way from what we may be used to. Very few people know about this peculiarity that resides inside the Cathedral of Florence, and still arouses the curiosity of millions of tourists and Florentines to this day: to visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore means entering the history and the art of Florence and discovering her numerous mysteries.
The title of this story could be “The time of men who contemplate the time of God”. Those who enter the Cathedral and look up and behind them, will be amazed by the sight of clock hands going counterclockwise and changing from season to season.
This clock follows the natural flow of time, in particular the sunrise and sunset. Whenever you look at the clock, it indicates the hours that have passed since sunset according to the season: it is the so called “Italian hour”.
In order to understand it better, let’s take for example the time that would be indicated on the 22nd of November when the sun sets at 5 p.m.
At 5.p.m. the hands mark the 24th hour, the Vespers, the time when, in the past, the doors of the city would be closed and, in the country, the farmers would return home from working in the fields.
At 6p.m. the hands mark the first hour (“or di notte”), when once they used to hold a requiem for the deceased.
At 8 a.m. the hands will mark the 15th hour, the sunrise.
At 12p.m the hands will mark the 19th hour, or noon.
The hours are voiced by the bells of Giotto’s Bell Tower, pealing six times a day, marking the time of the day in Florence. The mechanism that has been telling the time till now was made in 1761 by Giuseppe Bargiacchi, a famous Florentine clockmaker, and an ancestor of our own family. I wonder if our Giuseppe Bargiacchi would ever have imagined his descendant would own a hotel near the Cathedral of Florence, just a few steps away from his work is located.
Every time we look at it, we realize his work has allowed men to tell the time for centuries using that clock, which, thanks to its position in the Cathedral, looks towards eternity, the time of God, depicted in the Last Judgement Of Vasari that can also be found inside the Cathedral.
We are waiting for you at the Hotel Il Guelfo Bianco, where you can begin your journey to discover the masterpiece of Paolo Uccello and be charmed by the “Italian hour”.
Reserve your room!