Pennabilli, the route of the sundials

In Pennabilli, in the upper part of the Marecchia Valley, nature and culture compete to display their peculiarities and beauty. It is no coincidence that Pennabilli is home to many of Tonino Guerra's "places of the soul", or that much of its territory lies within the Sasso Simone and Simoncello Natural Park.
But in Pennabilli there is also a singular way of marking time that passes through 7 artistic sundials, a journey marked by natural events calculated with a technological precision that amazes and enchants.


Arriving in Pennabilli, go to the main square which is called Vittorio Emanuele II. From there you can begin your stroll along the sundial road.

It is so called because along its route there are seven artistic sundials, which mark the time according to methods that belonged to different historical periods.

They are located on the buildings of the hamlet in the historic center and show the different ways in which time has been conceived over the centuries.

The sundial is an instrument that measures the time based on the detection of the position of the Sun.

They were set up in 1991; let's find out about them together:

- "Sundial of the meeting" inside the garden of forgotten fruits. It is a bronze sculpture, depicting two doves, which, casting their shadows on a stone platform, turn into the profiles of Federico Fellini, a friend and collaborator of the master Tonino Guerra, and of his wife.

The "human sundial" instead is the one in which the person has to replace the "gnomon" by positioning him/herself at the center of the large horizontal quadrant to see the solar time indicated by his/her shadow.

- "Puttos around a well", a clock with canonical hours, those of religious offices, that is:

the day is divided into 12 hours, from sunrise to sunset. The sixth hour of this clock corresponds to noon, hence the saying "take a siesta" to indicate the interruption for the afternoon rest. 

- "The sun over the hills" is a vertical clock, defined at European or tramontane hours, which divides the day into 24 hours (as today): the twelfth hour (noon) lies on the local meridian, indicating that the sun at that moment is at the zenith and therefore at the exact halfway point of the solar day. It is also called the French hours because this measurement of time was introduced into Italy with the Napoleonic domination. The gnomon is sloped.

- In the "Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian" the hours are indicated by the arrows painted on the ribs while the gnomon is represented by a real arrow inserted into the martyr's armpit. The sundial has a stylus perpendicular to the plane, therefore the time should be read at the apex of the stylus. On June 21st, the summer solstice, the shadow of the arrow-gnomon touches the apex of the painted arrows, while on December 22nd, the winter solstice, it touches the points where the arrows stick into the body. It only marks the morning hours.

- “Island over the sea” is based on a method of dividing time used by the Italic populations from the Middle Ages to the reforms introduced by Napoleon: the day was divided into 24 hours starting the count at sunset. This system makes it possible to know how many hours there are until sunset by subtracting the hour marked by the stylus from 24. At the winter solstice, the shadow touches the high apexes of the lines, at the summer solstice it touches the low apexes.

- A pastel painting by Tonino Guerra entitled "The blue-necked duck" is a sundial with European or tramontane hours: it indicates the morning hours until 1 pm.

  - "The clock on the beach" is a sundial with European or tramontane hours like the previous one.