One of the jewels of San Marco, too often overlooked, is the Torre dell’Orologio. The Clock Tower, which was built from 1496 to 1499, is located in a strategical position allowing it to be seen from the water and underlying once more the importance of the seas to the city of Venice.
Since its construction, the “Torre dell’Orologio” has gone through multiple modifications, both seen and unseen. One of the external modifications occurred in 1857, when 2 wheels were installed to give a digital display of the time,
one in Roman numbers for the hours, the other in Arab numbers for the minutes.
A destructive modification of the tower had taken place in 1797, after the conquest of Venice by Napoleon: the statue of a Doge, which was initially placed next to the lion, got destroyed by the new rulers.
“Te fasso vedar mi, che ora che xe!”, “I’ll let you see what time it is”, usually said in a very angry tone by parents to their children, is an expression known by every Venetian. Its origin is curious and linked to the Tower. Indeed, the people sentenced to death by Venice were executed in San Marco square with their backs to the water: the last thing they would see was, therefore, the Clock Tower and the time it displayed… now that is quite threatening!