Urbino is a small, absolutely gorgeous and wonderful place. This town, and nearby Urbania, remain special places for my wife and I, with many happy memories. Visit and you'll find yourself completely enchanted.
Urbino was the first place I stayed in le Marche and the first place in which we rented a beautiful Italian cottage. Our first real holiday in Italy as a married couple, the time spent here cemented forever my love for le Marche and for my wife, Maria, of course!
Hotels in Urbino are on the whole a pretty miserable lot. Don't worry though we have discovered a truly wonderful place to stay. It's about 20 minutes drive away and is the Country House Ca' Virginia (click for more).
The Virginia is a painstakingly restored farmhouse, nestled in unforgettable scenery. It is here that you'll really experience for yourself why life in Italy can be so very delightful.
This is an ideal place to base yourself to explore the surrounding areas from Urbino to San Leo (a delightful hilltop village) - you will need a car though.
The town lies between the river valleys of the Metauro and Foglia rivers, perched upon two hills and offering breathtaking views all the way across lush rolling hills to the Appenine Mountains beyond. The old town, enclosed by ancient walls, is known as the cradle of the Italian Renaissance and is still beautifully preserved.
Don’t miss the following museums to see some of the accomplishments of the leading figures of the time; the National Gallery of the Marche, the Albani Museum, the Gessi Museum, the Archeological Museum and the Typography Museum.
Churches and cathedrals of great interest are the Urbino Cathedral, the Church of St Francesco, the Church of St Domenico, and the Church of St. Spirito.
There are countless other things to see including the Palazzo Ducale, an important example of Renaissance architecture; the building surrounds a beautiful courtyard and is the symbol of the town. Visit too the fifteenth century home of Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael), the famous Renaissance artist.
Other illustrious names born here include: Donato Bramante, Girolamo Genga, Federico Barocci, Federico Brandanti and many more. Quite a collection of famous names for a little place like this and the things to see in such a small town leave many a city looking pretty poor.
I spent a week here the first time I visited and I still hadn't seen everything. I didn't want to leave either - the town is just so seductive.
The description of the town by Carlo Bo – the recently deceased president of the local University – is wonderful. I have tried to translate it to English and although a lot is lost in translation it still conveys the "special something" about the town.
Carlo writes: “There exist those towns where the souls remain forever open to discovery. This is Urbino, city of emotions, unpredictable and incomparable. This is not only for the artistic patrimony, but for the city itself, the extraordinary beauty and for the very air that one breathes.”
Whoever arrives in this magical town for the first time is in for
an extraordinary surprise, a leap back in time and a journey that lifts