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These notes are based on a very short visit to Northern Italy in October 1999.
According to the guide book, there is another sundial outside the cathedral as well, but I was not able to locate it.
While other sundials in Milan appear to be very few, there
is a magnificent collection of sundials and other scientific instruments
concerned with the sun at the Museo Poldi-Pezzoli which is quite close
to the Duomo. There are some 230 exhibits in all, well displayed in three
cases on the first floor. The museum is a delight - not a bit like the
formal public art galleries (such as the Pinotecha Brera nearby) but with
some really nice paintings displayed in fairly small rooms with furniture,
china cabinets, etc, and some displays of other classes of objects such
as sundials, clocks, and weapons.
|The picture shows an ivory sun-dial in the shape of a ship known as
a navicella. Posters of this sundial are sold in the museum.
The sundial display has many attractive portable dials, including two sundials combined with a small cannon fired by the sun's rays focused through a magnifying glass at noon, a curious horizontal sundial with a gnomon adjustable for latitude (though, since the lines on the dial plate are fixed, it would not be very accurate at any location other than the latitude it was designed for), and some shepherd's dials and astrolabes. Altogether unmissable!
Bergamo is a very interesting town located some 40 km. east of Milan, and accessible either by the blue motorway buses which leave from the Piazza Castello, or by train from the Central Station. The bus station and train station in Bergamo are very close together. Catch a no. 1 or 1A bus to the foot of the funicular railway, and take the funicular to ascend into the old town. From the terminus, walk directly across the square and up some steps into another small square. There is a group of 4 large sundials on the wall high up to your right.
Carry on in the same direction until you reach the Duomo (cathedral).
In the colonnade opposite the main door of the cathedral is a very handsome
meridian line. The central line is marked with the dates and months throughout
the year. There are two subsidiary lines fanning out which indicate 15
minutes before noon, and 15 minutes after noon. Between these two outer
lines, an analemma is engraved in the stone. High up in one of the arches
of the collonnade is a disk with a central hole. Towards solar noon, a
spot of light shines through the hole on the pavement, and gradually moves
across the meridian line. When it is on the meridian line, it is exactly
solar noon. When it crosses the hour-glass shape of the analemma, it is
exactly local noon, which is about 11.35 by your watch (or 12.35 when daylight
saving is in operation). This difference is because Bergamo is some 9 degrees
west of the standard meridian for Central European Time, which is at the
longitude of Prague.
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|www.sundials.co.uk/~ottawa.htm first posted December 1998 last revision 25 April 1999|
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