Marche - Places to visit - Urbino
The town is situated on the ridge of a hill (485 m.) separating the Metauro Valley from the Foglia.
It was founded by the Romans (Urbinum Metaurense) and later dominated by the Byzantines and Lombards until the Franks gave it to the Papal States; together with the other Penthapolis towns (774).
However for centuries the power of the Church was nominal and the town was often an ally of the Emperors. From 1155 to 1508, its history was that of the Montefeltro overlords; later it was ruled by the Della Roveres until 1631, when it finally became part of the Papal States, it was annexed to the Kingdom of Italy in 1860.
The urban layout of Urbino is particularly interesting; the town is surrounded by a circle of ramparts built for Duke Francesco Maria I in 1507. Although not always of artistic interest, the palatial buildings in the old centre date back to the 15th-16th centuries and give the town an architecturally homogeneous character, not easily found in larger towns.
An outstanding monument is the Palazzo Ducale, seat of the Montefeltro family, an important example of Renaissance architecture; the buildings surround a beautiful courtyard, and the famous faade, with its twin towers, is the symbol of the town.
Other remarkable monuments are the Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista (14th century, with outstanding frescoes), the Oratorio di San Giuseppe (16th century, with a coeval stucco crib), Church of San Francesco (14th century, Romanesque-Gothic with later additions), the House of Raffaello (15th century), the Gothic Church of St. Domini (14th century).
In the town's economy, industry is of limited importance (building materials, metal casting) as is agriculture, while tourism, and cultural activities associated with the local university, are highly developed.
Events: Various art exhibitions, Kite Day (September).
Famous People: Girolamo Genga (artist, sculptor and architect 1476-1551), Raffaello Sanzio (artist, 1483-1520), Federico Barocci (artist, 1535-1612), Antonio Viviani (artist, 1560-1620), Alessandro Vitali (artist, 1580-1640), Federico da Montefeltro (military leader, 1422-1482).
Cultural Institutions: National Gallery of the Marches (one of the most important art galleries in Italy, in the Palazzo Ducale, with paintings by Piero della Francesca, Raffaello, Tiziano, Paolo Uccello, Luca Signorelli, Melozzo da Forl, Guercino, and others), the Raffaello Academy, State School of Art, Sanzio Theatre, School of Fine Arts, University, Raffaello House-Museum.
In the Province: Pennabili and Carpegna (holiday resorts).