Urbino. Discover the little town that sealed the history of civilization
Urbino. A small city, a great artistic centre
It’s unlikely that you’ll happen to be in Urbino for itself.
Because it’s not very likely that you hear about it, not even in Italy.
But if you are in Ancona (more likely) or even in Rimini , for intensive summer fun, this is your chance.
The chance to discover a city-jewel, with great historical significance.
Because it was the seat of the Duchy of Urbino. Although today few know about it, without it the Renaissance would not have been the same.
Not only because Duke Federico da Montefeltro, who ruled from 1444 until 1482, was one of the greatest patrons of the arts known to the world.
But because here was born one of the three giants of the Renaissance, Raphael. And good luck, the new duke Guidobaldo, son of Federico, had married Elisabetta Gonzaga, daughter of the Duke of Mantua.
Mantua was the major centre of Renaissance among the small states of Italy (we will see it shortly). Therefore, the legacy of Federico and the tradition of Mantua made Urbino a brilliant star in the firmament of the Renaissance.
So Raphael was fortunate to gain an early recognition. At the court of Urbino, he acquired the reputation that made him arrive in Florence with a solid background. The rest is well known. The child of Urbino conquered the art world in all the centuries to come.
So what is left in Urbino, after the departure of Raphael?
A Renaissance city that remained unchanged since then.
A palace, by Luciano Laurana, one of the largest in history and a model of Renaissance architecture.
And not only these.
From afar, the ducal palace looks huge compared to the city. Wait to see it at close quarters!
The cathedral, next to the ducal palace
As we approach the palace looks incredibly large
This façade is the most famous one. A milestone in the transition from the architecture of military defence to the architecture of beauty. From the castle to the palace. That is from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance
The Duke’s office. It’s considered the masterpiece of marquetry in Italy. Source: Francesco di Giorgio Martini [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons http://www.flashcardmachine.com/early-renaissance1.html
The view from the palace to the outside
Urbino has a university operating since 1506 (from the time of Raphael). It’s one of the most important in Italy, with a student population that is huge compared to the population of the city. Thus, Urbino is very animated in relation to its size.
In this house was born Raphael. Without him, the Renaissance would not have been the same. Today it’s a museum
Even the cathedral is huge compared to the city
In Urbino the time seems to have stopped in the Renaissance
To get there, you’ll arrive by train to Pesaro, on the Adriatic, on the railway line Ancona-Rimini. Then you’ll continue by bus to Urbino.
But be careful if you go in summer. Due to the enormous crowds flocking to Rimini, the railway line has tremendous traffic and long delays. If you come from quite far away and you have to change train on your way back, you risk to lose the correspondence and get stuck somewhere else.
That’s what happened to us. We had come from Ravenna and were getting back there. But we lost the second train at Rimini and we ended up sleeping there, in a room that was normally a storeroom.
But no evil without good. We got a taste of the famous Rimini, the Mykonos or Ibiza of Italy. For half a day it’s OK, but if you decide to go to some Mykonos or Ibiza, let it better be an island.
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