From the Republic of San Marino we headed south and visited one other town in the afternoon before heading back to our home base in Ravenna, Italy. Urbino is about 45 km (28 miles) south of San Marino, via a winding country road that meanders through the hills and valleys of this beautiful region of Italy.
View of Urbino from the west.
The main tourist sight in Urbino is the Palazzo Ducale, considered Italy’s most beautiful Renaissance Palace, built for Duke Federico da Montefeltro, ruler of Urbino from 1444-1482. One of Italy’s greatest Renaissance artists, Raphael, was born in Urbino in 1483, and thankfully he is represented in the Ducal Palace through some of his works as well as those of his talented father.
It’s difficult to get an overall view of the Ducal Palace due to its location in the heart of Urbino.
The Palace is in the center of the hilltop medieval town of Urbino. It contains a number of priceless works of art, including paintings, tapestries and beautiful three dimensional inlaid wood panels.
Urbino’s Cathedral (Duomo) with the Ducal Palace visitor’s entrance on the left.
The inlaid woodwork gives a 3D look to the walls of the Studiolo, the former study of the Duke. The artist Botticelli is said to have designed some of the images in this room.
Another inlaid wood panel in the Studiolo.
One more panel in the Studiolo. It feels like you can walk right through the porch and out into the landscape.
The Angels’ Room, one of 500 rooms in the Palace.
A Great Hall in the Ducal Palace.
Raphael’s La Muta (or Portrait of a Gentlewoman), oil on wood, from about 1507. One of the great paintings housed in the Ducal Palace, and often compared to the Mona Lisa. Raphael died at the young age of 37, but left an amazing legacy of art in that short lifetime.
The entire first floor of the Palace is filled with fine Renaissance art.
Central Courtyard of the Ducal Palace (Cortile d’Onore).
In addition to the main rooms of the Palace, the basement level contains stables, kitchens and storage areas that are worth a look.
Hallway leading through the basement of the Palace.
This is a cistern-like ‘refrigerator’ in the basement of the Palace. Snow would be packed in here during the winter to keep stores fresh for months.
Washing/kitchen area underneath the Ducal Palace.
Horse stable area and storage facilities in the basement of the Palace.
Toilet area near the stables. The servants would sleep in this area too!
The Ducal Palace was pretty quiet with just a few visitors roaming. Urbino is another Italian town that has few tourists in May. The town of 24,000 inhabitants, is largely made up of students at Urbino’s university, the primary ‘industry’ in town.
Street scene, Urbino.
One of the steep narrow streets in Urbino.
We enjoyed wandering the streets after visiting the Palace–be prepared to get some exercise!