Torre dell'Orologio ☆☆☆

The clock on St. Mark's clock tower tells both the time and the position of the sun relative to the signs of the Zodiac, Torre dell'Orologio, Venice, Italy (Photo © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.5)
The clock on St. Mark's clock tower tells both the time and the position of the sun relative to the signs of the Zodiac

The Clock Tower on Piazza San Marco

This late 15th-century clock tower has a bell that chimes the hours with the help of two hammer-wielding statues standing on the very tip-top of the tower and known as the "Moors of Venice."

You would think there would be some kind of great story behind that—a monument featuring medieval North African Muslims, here in Venice? Or perhaps some obscure reference to Shakepeare's Othello?

However, you would be wrong.

The two statues are actually supposed to be your standard European shepherds, but centuries of outdoor life darkened to bronze figures to the point where, long ago, the Romantically-minded locals decided they looked more Moorish and gave them the nickname.

Construction on the clock tower began in 1496 and by 1499 it had started keeping time on an interesting 24-hour clockface that doubles as a horoscope marker.

However, the Venice clock tower has been restored many, many times—pretty much once per century, most recently from 1996 to 2006.

(For more on that recent, controversial, and seemingly endless project: www.torreorologio.it).

One nice thing about the most recent restoration: For the first time in history, you can now go inside the Torre dell'Orologio on 50-minute tours, but these must be booked ahead of time (see "'Tips" below).

 
Tickets
 
Photo gallery
  • The clock on St. Mark
  • , Torre dell'Orologio, Italy (Photo by Cezar Suceveanu)
  • The clockface and zodiac marker, Torre dell'Orologio, Italy (Photo by Zairon)
  • The
  • The hour and minutes (to nearest five-minute mark), flanking the Madonna, Torre dell'Orologio, Italy (Photo by Dimitris Kamaras)
  • The device that shows the minutes, Torre dell'Orologio, Italy (Photo by Jean Marc Fondeur)
  • The clock tower from above, Torre dell'Orologio, Italy (Photo by Lothar John)
  • The
Torre Dell'Orologio tours
 
More tours
 

Tips

Free or reduced admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Torre dell'Orologio for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

» more on discounts & passes
How long does the Clock Tower take?

You can just glance at it in passing.

If you are going to go inside, tours last 50 minutes.

The only way to get inside the Torre dell'Orolorgio is on a 50-minute guided tour of its Renaissance gears (nice views from up here, too) only by booking in advance (tel. 041-4273-0892 or www.visitmuve.it or at Viator.com or Select Italy).

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).