A bit of online research revealed that the inscription on the sundial is the first verse of a poem by the Roman poet Horace (65 – 8 BC).
Here is a translation of the first few verses of the poem as it can be found on Project Gutenberg:
Happy the man, who, remote from business,
after the manner of the ancient race of mortals,
cultivates his paternal lands with his own oxen,
disengaged from every kind of usury;
he is neither alarmed by the horrible trump, as a soldier,
nor dreads he the angry sea;
he shuns both the bar and the proud portals of citizens in power.
The following verses describe country life in vivid, beautiful scenes.
The sundial is mounted on a building right beside a river with lots of room for fields and a garden, forests are nearby. An ideal place for the peaceful and joyful activities Horace describes in his poem.
But quotes should be used cautiously, because if you read the entire poem you come to the following ending:
When Alfius, the usurer,
now on the point of turning countryman,
had said this, he collected in all his money on the Ides (mid-month);
and endeavors to put it out again at the Calends (beginning of the month).
Now I’m of course asking myself if the little noble palace from the 17th century, which is decorated by the sundial, was built by a banker.
I feel it’s rather amusing that the longing for a simple, happy life with nature has prevailed for more than 2000 years. A dream that can neither be fulfilled nor forgotten.