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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.
Your visit to Jesi can start from the Piazza Federico II, where, according to tradition, the Emperor of Swabia was born.
The Frederick II Square is the oldest in Jesi and is located where the city's Roman Forum once stood. This 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 market is still held in the square which has also become the focus in recent years for various important cultural centres such as museums and libraries.
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).
Jesi old town
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.
Churches of Jesi
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.
Galleries and art museums in Jesi
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”.
'Saint Lucy before the Judge' is 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.
Among other important museums of the city you might consider visiting the Diocesan Museum in the Palazzo Ripanti. It holds hundreds of works including paintings, sculptures, liturgical objects and reliquaries from the 8th to the 19th century.
Among the important works is a famous "Christ of Wood" from the Monastery of Poor Clares of Jesi. You can also see renaissance style paintings by local artists from the Marches, such as the "Madonna and Child" by Giovanni Antonio Bellinzoni da Pesaro (1415-1478); another "Madonna and the Child" executed for Bishop Tommaso Ghislieri (from 1464 to 1505), and the “Immaculate Conception” by Antonio Sarti (1580-1647), from the Collegiate Montecarotto.
Outside the ancient city walls
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 which runs along the Esino River. 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).
Linked to its history and ancient traditions, Vallesina still preserves its spirituality in the ancient medieval abbeys of the territory, which also has a strong agricultural tradition. A wine of very high quality is produced here, the "Verdicchio" of Castelli di Jesi, which is among the most highly rated in Italy.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Marche guide.