Torre dell’Orologio


Torre dell'Orologio, the clock face shows both the hours and signs of the zodiac

The two hardest-working men in Venice stand duty on a rooftop around the clock, and wear no pants. The 'Do Mori' (Two Moors) exposed to the elements atop the Torre dell'Orologio are made of bronze, and their bell-hammering mechanism runs like, well, clockwork. Below the Moors, Venice's gold-leafed 15th-century timepiece tracks lunar phases. Visits are by guided tour; bookings essential.

The clockworks required constant upkeep by a live-in clockwatcher and his family until 1998. After a nine-year renovation, they are now in independent working order – 132-stroke chimes keep time in tune; moving barrels indicate minutes and hours on the world's first digital clock face (c 1753); and wooden statues of the three kings and angel emerge from side panels annually on Epiphany and the Feast of the Ascension. Tours climb four-storeys of steep spiral staircases past the clockworks to the roof terrace, for giddy, close-up views of the Moors in action.

Children must be over six years of age to climb the tower, and the steep climb is not recommended for pregnant women and those suffering from vertigo or claustrophobia.