The only planned event for our time in Venice was to take the tour of the Torre dell’Orologio — the Clock Tower. We had reserved this tour several weeks before our departure; until recently, tourists have never before been allowed up inside the clock tower.
This Venice landmark, located in Piazza San Marco, was built in 1496 during the Renaissance. At the top of this remarkable clock, two huge bronze statues of Moorish men swing gigantic metal clappers into the bell once every hour; enormous numbers flip every five minutes to keep time. We were thrilled to be among the small groups (no more than six) to be allowed to view the innards and workings close up.
Our small group consisted of the four of us plus two other Americans. We followed our guide, a friendly young woman, through a non-descript door off a side alley and up a narrow staircase to the first level where we were at eye level with the mechanism of the clock.
Our guide explained how the intricate system of wheels and pulleys work together in perfect balance. On this same level we stood next to life-sized painted wooden statues of the Three Kings and an angel. Twice a year these very old figures are reattached to the clock’s workings and paraded out for public viewing.
The next level up brought us outside to the foot of the two huge Moors, who take turns clanging the bell on the hour. We couldn’t believe we were so close!
A “striking” view of one of the Moors and the Campanile to the right.
Finally we ascended to the very top, onto a ledge that overlooks all of Venice. What an amazing panorama of the city and its famous piazza below!