Sunday, June 07, 2009

Trieste - Michez and Jachez

I might get arguments from my friends Simonetta, Marco, Walter or Vincenzo, who after all know the country better than I, but I honestly think that Trieste’s Piazza Unità d'Italia is the loveliest square in all of Italy. Grand buildings and pleasant cafes on three sides and open to the Adriatic on the fourth it has a lightness that I don’t recall in any other piazza so far in my travels.

And it has Michez and Jachez - two sterling chaps, well more bronze than sterling these days - who announce the hour, every hour on the hour, to the good citizens of Trieste. They - or chaps much like them - have been performing that service since the 17th century. The Port clock tower was pulled down in 1838 and the original pair relegated to the junk heap to the very vocal horror of the populace.

When the new city hall was built in 1873 the clock tower was designed to be reminiscent of its ancestor and the new Michez and Jachez (in cast zinc) put into place in January of 1876. They did their job faithfully until, finally worn out by sea salt air and almost a hundred years of non-stop working, they were replaced by bronze replicas in 1972.

The 1876 pair were kept in a warehouse until 2005 when they were restored. After a careful cleaning of the zinc alloy and the iron bearings, all the cracks and holes were filled in and a wax-based protective coating with a a corrosion inhibitor was applied.

Then they were honorably retired to the courtyard of the Castello San Giusto - not required to work but now in peak condition ready at a moments notice to spring into action.

07 giugno - San Candido


evilganome said...

Trieste looks lovely.

I have heard from a friend who's husband is Italian about train travel in Italy. What she said pretty much was that the trains run when they feel like it and you just have to accept that. It sounds like you have finally come to the Italian way of thinking about the trains.

David said...

Hmmm - well, I've been saving up quality time in Trieste, especially after reading Jan Morris. It's interesting what you say about the Piazza.

Clearly it can't compare for antiquity with Siena or Ascoli Piceno. But to be open to the sea, that's something. For the same reason I love that old church in Trani, and think of a set for Boccanegra (Genoa wouldn't work quite as well).

yellowdog granny said...

that is just beautiful...