Urbino is situated between the valleys of the Metauro and Foglia rivers. Its historic centre now boasts the honour of being included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
It is birthplace of two great artists, Bramante and Raphael, and it is home to one of the oldest and most important universities in Europe, founded in 1506. For the second half of the 15th century its windy hill was the setting for one of the most illustrious courts in Europe. Duke Federico da Montefeltro gathered around him the greatest painters, poets and scholars of his day and housed them in one of Italy’s most beautiful Renaissance palaces, a palace that still stands as an eloquent memorial to this quintessential Renaissance man.
The Palazzo Ducale is a splendid late XV century residence, one of Italy’s most beautiful Renaissance palaces, defined as “a city in the form of a palace”, by humanist Baldesar. It was built by Luciano Laurana (1464-1472), who designed and carried out the main part of the building, like the Torricini façade, the Cortile D’Onore and the monumental series of steps. Urbino is the birthplace of Raphael, one of the most remarkable Renaissance artists. The house where he was born is now a delightful little museum.
Further tourist attractions are: Oratorio S. Giovanni Battista entirely decorated in 1416 with wall-to-ceiling frescoes by the Marchegiani painters Jacopo and Lorenzo Salimbeni; Presepio or nativity scene of the Oratory of San Giuseppe by Federico Brandani; the elegant Cathedral with the nearby Albani Diocesan Museum; the Sanzio Theatre, built in the 19th century; the rarely visited but nevertheless delightful Orto Botanico. You can’t miss: the Collegio Raffaello, founded by Pope Clement XI in the early eighteenth century, housing the town council hall, some offices of the Prefecture and the Cabinet Museum of Physics; the Albornoz Fortress, built in the second half of the fourteenth century by Cardinal Egidio Alvares de Albornoz.