The Sundials and the Clocks
Time measuring finds at Mesma interesting ancient instruments.
In the northern cloister, on the south-facing wall, over the arches of the portico, there are three round sun-boards, positioned over other three quadrangular ones.
In the southern cloister an inscription seems to witness the presence of another sun-board, today covered by a painting. On the opposite southern wall there are feeble signs of a further sun-board.
In the same cloister, facing north, there is a precious rococò clock, with a decoration of branches and flowers, which can be attributed to Orgiazzi the Old, from Valsesia.
Among the friars of Mesma there were clever builders of pendulum clocks. The well-known Pietro Filiberti realized a no more existing and extremely complicated pendulum clock. Seven thousand pieces composed it, almost all of them by brass and copper, realized so that they could be taken apart and fitted back together without any mistake. In fact each piece fitted only into another one. Filiberti wrote even an instruction manual to assemble and disassemble the clock. The device showed Babylon, astronomic and Italian times on a dial made by silver and golden sheets. It marked additionally the sun’s path on the horizon, noon, midnight, the moon’s phases and days, the days of the week and of the month, the equinox and the solstice, the zodiac signs and the annual revolution of the armillary sphere. The hours and the quarters stroke on three different peals and between each hour’s stroke an automatic organ played alternatively one of the twenty sonatas it contained, ten with human voice and the remaining ten with the sound of a small recorder. In the manner of conductor, a brass automation gave the nod at the stroking of the hours and of the quarters that were accompanied by the music by rotating its head and by moving its hands.
During the period of the dissolution, the clock was moved to Brera in Milan and we have no more news of it nowadays.
At the beginning of the 18th century the talented clocks-builder Father Giovanni Mazza assembled a big clock, which was placed on the external portico, facing the parvis.