Frederick II – Barbarossa was born in a tent in the market square of Jesi on the 26th December 1194. The reason he was born in a tent was because his mother the Empress Constance was at that time, on her to Sicily to join her husband the Emperor Henry.
She had to give birth in a tent because she was an elderly first time mother – and nobody really believed she was pregnant so there had to be lots of witnesses to prove that she actually gave birth to the child and there was no substitution, which was often the case in those days. So, priests and bishops and nuns attended and probably half the population of Jesi…
The Man had wanted to visit Jesi for a very long time in order to see this square and frankly, had mithered on about it for EVER… so we had to make the stop on our way back from Gubbio.
I was not overly impressed with Jesi or the Frederico II Piazza, but I did my best to enthuse. There was a monument in the centre of it but it didn’t give any information…there was no…X marks the spot and surrounding the square engraved into the border tiles it repeated a pattern of the date and a drawing of a tent. Strangely there was no statue of the great man in his own square, we had to walk to the edge of the town walls and found him lurking around a corner.
After our little walk around the town we stopped at a rather lovely café. The array of savoury delights and sweet pastries looked divine. I made my choice and we took a coffee each and some water. It was just coming up for one O’clock and we, The Man and I, were the only two customers. I noticed that the staff seemed to be clearing up and shutting up shop. How strange… I thought, why would a food outlet be shutting at lunchtime? But, yes they were. It’s typical in Italy. The people don’t take a sandwich for lunch they eat a full meal at home or in one of the many restaurants so the coffee shops often close for three hours and open again around 4 or 5. By the time we’d finished (and we felt obliged to hurry our rations) the streets of Jesi were pretty deserted and all the shops closed.
So different from England which I believe now has now a 24hour shopping culture.
I wonder who’s got it right?