The clock has only one hand, running anti-clockwise from the Roman numeral XXIIII at the bottom, which does not indicate midnight. The clock, in fact, registers the ora italica (‘Italian time’), also known as Bohemian time or Julian time, after Julius Caesar’s 46 CE calendar, which began at sunset and ended at sunset.
In the cathedral, the clock’s main purpose was probably liturgical, marking the hour when vespers, the sunset prayer service, began. Also, in the medieval world so dependent on farming, sunset heralded the end of the long working day that began with the first rays of light. Sunset, however, changes throughout the year, which means, even today, the Duomo’s clock must be reset weekly.
The clock of the Duomo in Florence is one of the oldest functional mechanical clocks. The dial is a fresco painted by one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, Paolo Uccello. The clock is one of only a few examples in the world that marks the Italic hour, measuring time from sunset to sunset. Thus, “Paolo Uccello’s clock” is both a timepiece and a work of art.
Catching up with time…
Weekend around the corner 😍