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Why Urbino, a hidden renaissance gem of Marche can easily compete with the Tuscanian towns.


Urbino, a beautiful renaissance town in Marche can bodly compete with any town in Tuscany. And  if it was in Tuscany, it would be one of the most visited places in Italy.

A very old gate that is part of the ramparts and opens the way to the old towns
Borgo gate.


But it’s situated in Marche, on the wrong side of the Apennines. Additionally, it’s not the most easier reachable town, you can’t  get there by train or a plane, so it’s still relatively tourist-free. I hope it will stay that way even if Urbino it’s a beautiful and definitely worth visiting city.

The town became famous in the XV century, when attracted the greatest artist and scholars from Italy and abroad.

Rafaello, one of the most prolific Renaissance artists, was born there. Until today Urbino is linked to art, craft, and culture. There is also one of the best Italian universities and so the town has more students than the inhabitants. As a result Urbino is full of young people making the vibrant and alive. Adittionally it’s one of the best-preserved renaissance places in Italy. 

My Italian partner told me that Urbino was beautiful. For Italians everything in Italy it’s beautiful, so I was a bit skeptical. We don’t always have the same taste. 

The first thing I saw in Urbino was a church with a life-sized reproduction of Rafaello’s tomb.

Then we walked to the panoramic point in Parco della Resistenza, but just because there were supposed to be toilets. There were no toilets, but what I saw made me speechless. The panorama of Urbino is breathtaking. 

Panorama of Urbino.


I was looking at the old town with the Pallazo Ducale built in the 15th century by Federico II da Montefeltro. My mind was spinning. I didn’t know whether my first impression was beautiful or huge / massive.  The palace is like a small town surrounded by defensive walls. It’s magnificent and certainly can easily compete with any place in Tuscany.

According to Mauro (my partner), the place it’s not the top destination even for Italians.

On one hand, it’s a shame, because the town is amazing and has a great atmosphere. Surrounded by beautiful  tenement houses built of red brick, being aware of the importance of this place, I felt the renaissance in the air. On the other hand, I’m becoming more and more against tourism (not traveling though). After visiting to San Marino, I believe it’s good that there are still some places that are not known and popular. Some spots will never be trendy because it’s hard to reach them. Sometimes you have to walk a lot and there are no cafes where you can sit after walking 200 meters. Additionally there also is no reason to boast about them on social media etc. They’re unknown, so won’t impress anyone. And that’s good. 

Getting back to Urbino, in the Parco della Resistenza you can visit  the Fortezza Albbornos. (ticket costs 1.50)

Ancient ruins of a fortress standing in a park with people sitting on the grass
The fortress.


The fortess itself looks more attractive from the outside than inside, but the view from it is stunning. 

The Ducal Palace hosts the National Gallery of the Marche and exhibits some of the most important masterpieces of Renaissance art. (ticket costs 8 euro).

Urbino is a town where the streets are rather steep. 

a steep street between Renaissance tenement houses
One of the steep streets in Urbino.


There is a mini-train for tourists, but I believe there is no better option to see the place than to walk. And getting up and down was also good to burn for example lunch or ice cream. 

As Urbino is the birthplace of Rafaello Sanzio, the house where he was born is now a museum.  It’s pretty easy to reach it from the central square and you can find the visiting hours here. The museum has collected many works of art thanks to private individuals and public institutions. Some exhibits are closely related to Raphael and others document the story of Urbino. To the left of the main entrance is Giovanni Santi’s studio, now used as an art gallery. The borgo of Urbino (the old town) is on the  UNESCO World Heritage List since 1998. 

People are sitting at the tables, chatting and drinking coffee at the old town square qith old builgings.
One of the squares in Urbino.

Urbino is located in a great area, so if you’re like more activities there are plenty of ‘to do’ waiting for you.

Farms around Urbino focus on organic agriculture, so there are  a lot of tasty dishes to try. The local cuisine is famous for truffles, mushrooms, and cheese.  Therefore in Urbino you can ejnoy the lifestyle in which wellness and health as essential values. Outdoor lovers can do kayaking, trekking, biking, motorbiking, orienteering, and so on.

How to get to Urbino

The best option is to use a car and GPS, however remember you have to park outside the old town. The borgo and some other historical sites are located within limited traffic zone (zona a traffico limitato (ZTL).  

If you don’t  drive, you can firstly take a train from Ancona to Pesaro or Fano. Secondly from both places you can catch a bus to Urbino.

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