Urbino, Italy: Picturesque, Small And Walled Renaissance Hill Town

The picturesque, small and walled Renaissance hill town of Urbino is the picture-perfect spot in the heart of Italy. It is nestled between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea, and is best known as the birthplace of none other than one of the greatest painters of the Renaissance – Rafael!

The town’s skyline is a soaring vista of domes and towers. The kaleidoscopic landscape is composed of sea, mountains, music and majolica tiles.

This medieval town offers a variety of experience to its visitors. The small town puts you in touch with the heart and soul of Italy and its people. Its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A Little Bit Of History

The town was founded in 41 AD by the Romans who were attracted by the healthy air and the ideal climate of the region.

Ancient Castle of the Duke of Urbino, Italy - It is known as Palazzo Ducale (built for Duke Federico III da Montefeltro) and one of the landmarks of the town situated between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Today, it is a home to the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche that art lovers should not miss.Ancient Castle of the Duke of Urbino

The Goths invaded it in 583 and during the wars of the 6th century the area became an important strategic hold.

Antonio da Montefeltro, an outstanding warrior, repressed a revolt in Rome against Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. As a reward, he was given the title of Count and appointed Imperial legate of Urbino in 1155.

There was a reawakening of arts and architecture during this period and his nephew, Frederick II, succeeded him. After him the court was given to Frederick III, the most prominent ruler and a lover of art.

This interesting place was a Roman and medieval city but it prospered under the Duke Federico da Montefeltro, during the 15th century. It experienced a great cultural flowering that attracted artists and scholars from Italy and beyond.

One of the key figures in this artistic period is the famous painter Raphael and his home is open to visitors. Visitors form all over the world come here to visit his home and feel the historic and artistic vibe of this unique hilltop town.

Due to lack of rightful heirs on the death of Guidobaldo Montefeltro (1508), the court passed into the hands of the Della Rovere dynasty, but the town started declining after 1523.

It has preserved its Renaissance appearance despite its cultural stagnation from the 16th century. Later it became a part of the Republic of Italy.

The University of Urbino was started in 1506 and this place was once the greatest seat of learning in Italy.

The important festivals here are the Festival of Ancient Music that is celebrated in July and the famous Duke’s Festival, which is celebrated with processions, street performers and a jousting tournament.

Where is Urbino?

  • 114.3 miles/ 184 km from Florence, Italy
  • 40.3 miles/ 65 km from Rimini, Italy
  • 64.6 miles/ 104 km from Ancona, Italy
  • 173.3 miles/ 279 km from Rome, Italy
  • 108.1 miles/ 174 km from Bologna, Italy
  • 259.1 miles/ 417 km from Genoa, Italy
  • 54.6 miles/ 88 km from Ancona Falconara Airport, Italy
  • 70.8 miles/ 114 km from Forlì International Airport, Italy
  • 125.5 miles/ 202 km from Florence Airport, Italy

Things to See

  • Ducal Palace
  • Marche National Museum
  • Albornoz Fortress
  • Duomo
  • Raphael’s House
  • Botanical Garden
  • Piazza Rinascmento, Piazza della Republica and Piazza Duca Federico
  • Oratorio di San Giuseppe
  • Oratorio di San Giovanni Battista


  • Pesaro Beach
  • Spiaggia Libera
  • Altamarea Beach Village


  • San Leo
  • Gubbio
  • The Truffle Valleys

Urbino has a refreshing, energetic feel, and there are plenty of places to eat and drink.

A new town has grown up in the valley below but the glories are in the walled upper town and it is there that you will like to spend most of your time. It is a place of unusual beauty.

We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!