Jesi (also known as Iesi) is in the Le Marche region of central Italy, inland from Ancona.
Set among the hills and vineyards of the region, Jesi is best known for it's medieval centre and the sturdy walls and towers that surround the town, with defensive fortifications dating from its 14th century heyday as centre of a small independent state.
The old town, laid out along a raised ridge, is well preserved and the most interesting part of the town for visitors with several interesting palaces and buildings to admire, and it is a very pleasant town to explore when visiting this region of Italy.
The Legend of Jesi says that it was founded by King Esio, king of the Pelasgians, who arrived from Greece in 768 BC and gave it the symbol of a a rampant lion on its coat of arms as is indicated by an inscription on a stone carving located above the main gate of the Palazzo della Signoria. This mythological king was considered the founder of the Etruscans, the Sabines and Picenes. This legend that has lasted through the centuries, seems to be the origin of the historic designation of Jesi as being a Royal City.
Jesi was one of the last towns of the Umbri when, in the 4th century BC, the Senones Gauls invaded the area and ousted them. They turned it into a stronghold against the Piceni. In the fourth century B.C. the Gauls, a Celtic population originating from the north coming from the modern day city of Sens in France, drove out the Umbrians and settled on the east coast of Italy, from Rimini to Ancona, in what was called Ager Gallicus. They founded "Sena Gallica" (Senigallia), which became their capital. They established the southern boundary of their domain on the river Esino near Jesi making it the last stronghold of defence against Picenes.
In 283 BC the Senones were defeated by the Romans and the area came under the Roman Empire. During the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Iesi was ravaged by the troops of Odoacer (476 AD) and again in 493 by the Ostrogoths of Theodoric the Great. After the Gothic War, Italy became part of the Byzantine Empire, and Jesi became one of the main centers of the new rulers, and also became a diocese seat. In 247 BC Jesi became a colonia civium romanorum with the name of Aesis. In 751 it was sacked by the Lombard troops of Aistulf, and later was a Carolingian imperial city.
Starting from 1130, Iesi was an independent commune, gradually expanding in the neighboring countryside. In December 1194 it was the site of the birth of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, who later gave it the title of "Royal City". In the 14th century it was captured by the Papal vicar Filippo Simonetti, by Galeotto I Malatesta (1347–1351), by Braccio da Montone in 1408, and by Francesco I Sforza, who turned it into his family's main stronghold in the Marche. In 1447 it was bought by the Papal States.
Read more about the History of Jesi on the Jesi King Esio History Page
Your visit to Jesi can start from the Piazza Federico II, where, according to tradition, the Emperor of Swabia was born. The Federico II Square is the oldest in Jesi and is located where the city's Roman Forum once stood.
The square is the largest in Jesi, in an attractive location on top of the hill and in the surrounding medieval centre includes the most important buildings of the city. The Wednesday and Saturday market is still held in the square and spills out to the surrounding streets and piazzas of the old town, which has also become the focus in recent years for various important cultural centres such as museums and libraries. The cathedral is located in the far right corner of the square.
The first cathedral of Jesi was erected in the area where in Roman times there was probably a pagan temple. It was called “San Settimio” after the founder of the church. The cathedral was rebuilt in 1741 with a nave and large spherical dome, with the transept in neoclassical style, while the new bell-tower was erected in the 18th century. It was only completed in the second half of the 19th century. Inside, the cathedral retains two 13th century “columniferous” lions which were originally placed before the main entrance of the ancient Romanesque-Gothic cathedral, and some works by Filippo Bellini (1550-1604), Gaetano Lapis (1706-1758) and Cristoforo Unterperger (1732-1798).
The old town of Jesi is enclosed in a walled city built on Roman foundations and dating from the Middle Ages between the 13th and 14th century, though renovated several times during the renaissance, including important changes in the 15th century by the architect Baccio Pontelli (1450-1492).
The old town walls around Jesi are massive and interspersed with gates and towers - the most striking of these is the Tower of Montirozzo.
There are several churches of interest in Jesi. Of particular interest is the Church of St. Nicholas, the oldest building in the city, the existence of which is documented from the 12th century. The church was restored in the second half of the 20th century, and constitutes a well balanced combination of romanesque and gothic elements.
Nearby is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace, which is the result of successive enlargements made around an original oratory dedicated to Mary Assunta in the 15th century and restored in the baroque style in the 18th century.
The Church of St. John the Baptist dates from the 13th century, but it was rebuilt around the end of the 16th century and today has a single nave covered by trusses. The Lombard period is represented in the churches of Jesi by the Church of St. Peter the Apostle, with a baptismal font. It was originally built in gothic style with a portico, but was also rebuilt in the 18th century after a destructive earthquake.
The Church of St. Nicholas is the oldest building in the town of Jesi, documented since the twelfth century. The original Romanesque style was reworked in the fourteenth century with the addition of Gothic elements. The interior has three naves and apses, with a prevalence of cross vaults supported by pillars Of the sixteenth century frescoes remain only a few, illegible traces . From the church a fresco by Pietro da Rimini of "St. Francis" ( 1333 ), is now preserved at the National Gallery of Urbino, and also ‘L'Icona del Sangue Giusto’, is now preserved in the church of San Giovanni Battista.
One of the highlights for visitors to Jesi is the large number of mansions in the old town, among which Pianetti Palace stands out. This palace was designed in the 18th century by Gasparo Pianetti (1780-1862), concluded in the 19th century, and now houses the Municipal Art Gallery.
This art gallery contains important works by the Venetian painter Lorenzo Lotto (1480-1556). Among the most expressive of these paintings are "The Visitation", “Annunciation”, "Madonna with Child and Saints", "Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata", and "Saint Lucy before the Judge”.
Housed in the Gallery is the 'Saint Lucy before the Judge' considered by critics as proof of the importance of Lorenzo Lotto, because of its freshness and remarkable modernity. It was painted by the Venetian painter in 1532 for the Confraternity of Saint Lucy.
Another building of great importance in Jesi is the Palazzo dei Priori (or sometimes "della Signoria"), designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and now the Civic Museum, which exhibits artefacts dating from Roman times.
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi (4 January 1710 – 16 March 1736) was an Italian composer, violinist and organist who was born in Jesi (at that time Iesi, then in the Papal States). Pergolesi studied music there under a local musician, Francesco Santini, before going to Naples in 1725, where he studied under Gaetano Greco and Francesco Feo among others. He spent most of his brief life working for aristocratic patrons like the Colonna principe di Stigliano, and duca Marzio IV Maddaloni Carafa.
Pergolesi was one of the most important early composers of opera buffa (comic opera). Among Pergolesi's other operatic works are his first opera La conversione e morte di San Guglielmo (1731), Lo frate 'nnamorato (The brother in love, 1732, to a text in the Neapolitan language), L'Olimpiade (31 January 1735) and Il Flaminio (1735). All his operas were premiered in Naples, apart from L'Olimpiade, which was first given in Rome.
The theatre, originally named "Concordia", was inaugurated in 1798. About a century later its name was changed to assume that of the local musician Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. It was ceded to the town administration in 1933 and obtained in 1968, for its historical and artistic importance, the state recognition of "Theatre of Tradition", making it the first and only theatre in Italy to receive such a recognition in a town that is not a regional capital. The room has an elliptical shape and resulting excellent acoustics, it has three tiers of boxes plus a gallery. The vaulted ceiling is decorated with mythological scenes that represent the stories of Apollo, by the hand of the Bolognese painter Felice Giani, one of the greatest painters of Neoclassicism. Of great historical interest is the curtain painted in 1850 by local artist Luigi Mancini.
The monument to Pergolesi is located in an open square in the middle of ‘Corso Matteotti’, bordered by the Church of St. Nicholas and the Sanctuary of the ‘Madonna della Grazie’. The work, made by the sculptor Alessandro Carrara Lazzerini in 1910, can be considered as one of the rare examples of the current of naturalism Nouveau Marche. The musician is standing above, directing, the allegorical figures of Singing (female figure) and Sound (male figure), a very refined relief, with the notes of the famous Stabat Mater that alludes to Death and Love and two small masks symbolising Tragedy and Comedy.
Triumphal arch erected in 1734 by the people of Jesi in honor of Pope Clement XII. The Arch marks the Limit of Renaissance and eighteenth century development on the street leading away from the ‘Arco del Magistrato’. It is now a sort of gateway to the city centre for those arriving from Rome, Umbria or from Frasassi.
We suggest you go outside the city walls to visit the Church of San Marco, built on a hill and considered the most important monument of religious architecture of Jesi - and also one of the most important in the Marches region.
For nature lovers, Jesi also offers interesting excursions in the immediate neighborhood, such as the Vallesina Nature Trail which runs along the Esino River. Also found nearby is the nature reserve Oasis Ripa Bianca.
The main feature of the territory, of which Jesi is the main town, is the series of walled villages, in good condition, which extend over the hills and are known as the “Castelli di Jesi” (Castles of Jesi). Amongst these hiiltop towns you will discover Cupramontana, Capital of Verdicchio and home of the Cantinone Holiday Accommodation.
Your holiday in Marche starts here...
Find your holiday accommodation - perfect for the whole family - at Cantinone Bed and Breakfast and Holiday Apartments. Cantinone is an eco-friendly B & B - we offer luxury at a budget price and are committed to green practices like recycling, using local and organic food, and renewable energy.
Further reading on Jesi
Events in Jesi
Marche Hilltop Towns - Guide to Download
Guide to Marche - Poster format