Urbino is a picturesque Renaissance hill town and the capital of the Marche region of central Italy. Although Urbino was a Roman and later a medieval city, its peak came during the 15th century when Duke Federico da Montefeltro established one of Europe's most illustrious courts there. Today, its impressive Ducal Palace houses one of the most important collections of Renaissance paintings in Italy. Urbino has a university that was founded in 1506 and it's a center for maiolica ceramics, art, and culture. Urbino's historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Urbino is in the northern part of central Italy's Marche Region, one of the more remote and least touristed regions of Italy. The town is about 30km from the Adriatic coast. Looking west, Urbino is about 100 km, or two hours' drive over hilly terrain, to the Tuscan city of Arezzo.
There are no train lines going to Urbino but Urbino can easily be reached by bus. The closest train stations are Pesaro and Fano on the coast. From the stations, there are buses to Urbino. Daily except for Sunday, there are four buses connecting Rome-Tiburtina to Urbino. Buses from Urbino serve many smaller towns in the region. The bus station is in Borgo Meratale by Porta Valbona. The closest airports in Italy are Ancona and Rimini.
If you're arriving by car, park in one of the lots at the foot of Urbino. You can walk up the hill or park near the bus station and take a bus to the center.
Urbino Tourist Office
Urbino's Tourist Office is near the Cathedral on the town's central square. There's also a small office near the bus station where you can pick up a map.
- Ducal Palace - Urbino's huge Ducal Palace, Palazzo Ducale, is one of the most impressive (and also the first) in Italy. The Ducal Palace was built in the second half of the 15th century. Top sites are the impressive Courtyard of Honor, the Duke's study with stunning trompe l'oeil inlaid woodwork panels, and the vast network of kitchens, laundry rooms, cellars, and stables underneath. It's easy to spend several hours wandering through the palace and two museums, the National Gallery and the Archaeological Museum. Read more about the Ducal Palace and Art Gallery.
- Marche National Gallery - Inside the Ducal Palace, the National Art Gallery of the Marche, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, has one of the most important collections of Renaissance paintings in the world.
- Duomo - The Duomo or cathedral was constructed on top of a sixth-century religious building. Completed in 1604, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1789 and then rebuilt. The duomo now has a neoclassical appearance and houses several important artworks, including a painting of the Last Supper by Federico Barocci. The Museo Diocesano has a collection of glass, ceramics, and religious items.
- Piazza Rinascimento, Piazza della Republica, and Piazza Duca Federico - The center of Urbino is formed by these two squares. Here you'll find cafes, shops, and lots of people.
- Raphael's House - The Renaissance painter Raphael was born in Urbino (in 1483) and his family's house is now a museum.
- Oratorio di San Giuseppe - This medieval church on Via Barocci is known for its presepio, or nativity scene. Nearby is the Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista with beautiful 15th-century frescoes.
- Albornoz Fortress - The small fortress at the top of Urbino is a great place for views of the town and surrounding hills. It was built in the 14th century and was the defensive point for the walls, built in the sixteenth century. It's now a library and public park.
- Botanical Garden - The small orto botanico is nicely laid out with labeled plants, ponds, and pathways. Entrance is free.
Where to Stay and Eat in Urbino
In town, Albergo San Domenico is a modestly priced, conveniently located option. The comfortable Country House Parco Ducale, 17km from Urbino, makes a good place to stay if you have a car. From there you can easily visit Urbino and other towns in the Marche region.
Urbino holds an Early Music Festival in July. The Festa del Duca, usually the first half of August, is a celebration of Urbino's famous Duke with processions, street performers, and a jousting tournament.