For Italian culture buffs and art lovers, visiting the hill town of Urbino in the Le Marche region is a must. Exploring it slowly on a custom Italy vacations is a real treat.
Despite its picturesque narrow streets, architectural gems, beautiful mountains stretching on the background, Urbino is unjustly ignored by many tourists. In its glory days, in the 15th and 16th centuries, the town was one of the cultural capitals. Piero della Francesca and many other Renaissance masters worked here.
One of the most spectacular sites in Urbino is the Ducal Palace (Palazzo Ducale) built in the 15th century. You can easily spent half-day wondering in the fascinating maze of laundry rooms, kitchens, cellars and ballrooms. The National Art Gallery of Le Marche (Galleria Nazionale delle Marche) housed inside the palace has an impressive collection of Renaissance paintings including works by Raphael, Piero della Francesca, Uccello, Titian and Barocci.
The Renaissance painter Raffaello Sanzio was born in Urbino in 1483 and his smart family home, on one of the town’s main streets, is now a museum. Don’t miss the grand Neoclassic style Cathedral of Urbino (Il Duomo) with the famous 17th century painting “The Last Supper” by Barocci. Walk though the beautiful Piazza Rinascimento, Piazza della Republica, and Piazza Duca Federico where you will find cafes, shops, and small restaurants. For stunning views of Urbino and the surrounding countryside climb up to Albornz Fortress built in the 14th century which today houses a library and public park.
For tasty traditional food head to La Trattoria del Leone that serves excellent rabbit with olives, roast pork, and passatelli pasta. Another great place to sample local cuisine is the ancient Antica Osteria della Stella which owners claim that Raphael dined with his friends here. The osteria is famous for traditional pasta dishes such as cappelletti in chicken broth, tagliatelle with white truffle or ragù and good local wines.
Photos by: Turismo Marche, Antonio Scaramuzzino, Pilar Torres.