Pesariis, the Town of Clocks

In Carnia, in the Valley of Time, the village dedicated to the art of clockmaking

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
Pesariis, the Town of Clocks — Friuli Venezia Giulia Secrets

Think about how many times you have been captivated by the charm of a clock on an ancient tower or in a train station. What you didn't know is that most of them bear the signature of the Solari Brothers of Pesariis, a small town already active in the 17th century as an important clock production center, probably thanks to its proximity to the Black Forest, cradle of the secrets of this famous industry.

Carnia is a mostly Alpine territory, characterized by uncontaminated nature and an ancient popular culture, the result of Celtic roots and various dominations, including the Roman one, which has come down to us proud and unchanged, making it one of the most authentic territories in Italy.

Here the tradition of creating pendulum clocks is lost in the mists of time, but what is certain is that in 1725 the activity of the Solari clock factory began, which during the 19th century would export tower clocks to half of Europe and in the Americas.

Pesariis, the Town of Clocks — Friuli Venezia Giulia Secrets
Pesariis, the Town of Clocks — Friuli Venezia Giulia Secrets

There is nothing stronger than those two fighters over there: time and patience.

(Lev Tolstoj)

The real revolution came in the 1930s when Remigio Solari invented the clock with digits on a flap display, a revolutionary way of indicating the time. A technological innovation that ensured the company won over 80% of the state railways’ clock contracts in the post-war period.

In 1935, for the Santa Maria Novella station in Florence, Solari produced the first clock with roller system palettes. In 1956, thanks to the collaboration with the designers Gino and Nani Valle, the company won the prestigious Compasso d’Oro award for Cifra, the first home clock with direct readout thanks to the digits on a flap display, and in 1962 they designed the giant display of the legendary TWA Terminal at J. F. Kennedy Airport in New York (protagonist of the film The Terminal with Tom Hanks).

Pesariis, the Town of Clocks — Friuli Venezia Giulia Secrets

Thanks to the Municipality of Prato Carnico, this and other stories of artisan mastery have been collected in the Val Pesarina Clockmaking Museum, now open by reservation. Since the beginning of the 2000s, the administration has also launched the beautiful urban art project “The Town of Clocks”, through which a path marked by original monumental clocks has been created.

Take some time for a walk through the streets of the town to discover the different installations, from the sundial to the water turbine clock, from the planetary clock to the giant perpetual calendar. Here clocks and elves, the inhabitants of the Carnia woods according to tradition, really pop up everywhere, as embroidery on the curtains, in the murals, and from the windows of the characteristic stone and wood houses.

Pesariis, the Town of Clocks — Friuli Venezia Giulia Secrets

A few minutes by car, near Pesariis, it is also worth visiting the Stavoli di Orias, named after the typical Carnia rural buildings, a tiny village suspended in a small valley from which a splendid 360-degree panorama opens up on the surrounding peaks. Wrapped in a magical silence, you can read Pierluigi Cappello’s poems hanging on the walls of the stables and lose yourself in the magic of the wild nature of Carnia.

And for a food and wine break, you can book at the Osteria Inn Pik in the center of Pesariis right in front of the Clock Museum, where chef Alessia Fruch will “stop time” with her excellent Carnia cuisine.

Pesariis, the Town of Clocks — Friuli Venezia Giulia Secrets
Pesariis, the Town of Clocks — Friuli Venezia Giulia Secrets

The Secret

Solari di Udine reconstructed a giant split-flap display identical to the one the company had created in the 1960s for the iconic lounge of the JFK airport on commission from the new TWA Hotel, one of the most famous ones in the world created from the restyling of the old TWA terminal of the international airport of NY.

Useful Info


Discover the Secret Places closest to you