When you visit Messina, be sure to be at the cathedral in front of its bell tower at noon sharp. That’s when, daily, the renowned astronomical clock puts on a show. Commissioned in 1930 by the Archbishop of Messina, Angelo Piano, the timepiece consists of a complex mechanism that governs the sound effects and movements of gilded figures representing characters and events.
Starting from the top, Messina’s symbol, a lion, waves the city’s flag three times all while roaring and wagging its tale (A comment on the baronial class, perhaps?). Below the King of the Jungle is a rooster (king of the farmyard) that symbolizes industriousness and intelligence (A symbol of the middle class, perhaps?). It flaps its wings and crows three times. Next to him are two heroines of the 1282 Sicilian Vespers, Dina and Clarenza (Rebels against an oppressive monarchy!). They strike the bells next to them every quarter hour. On the top “balcony” of the clock tower, the Madonna gives the ambassadors of Messina a letter promising she’ll protect the city.
(To be continued…)