Urbino tours, information and sights of Urbino

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Urbino is one of the most attractive towns in The Marches, indeed in Italy, and a not-to-be-missed destination for the anyone in search of great Italian art and architecture. The Ducal Palace of Urbino is one of Italy's most beautiful Renaissance buildings and it houses a splendid collection of art. For anyone staying in Florence, Siena or the Chianti wine territory, it is possible to visit Urbino in a single day if you have your own car or arrange a minibus tour. The latter makes economic sense especially if you are a group renting an agriturismo in Chianti. Further information below.


The Ducal Palace of Urbino

During the second half of the 15 C, Urbino was the home of one of the most illustrious courts in Europe. Duke Federico da Montefeltro gathered around him the greatest painters, poets and scholars of his day and housed them in the Ducal Palace which still stands as an eloquent testimonial to this quintessential Renaissance man.

Urbino Tour

Private minibus tours (up to 8 persons) to Urbino
with Maurizio Manuelli

Cell: 339 45 29 858             Tel/Fax: 055 86 56 731

Pre-organised full day Urbino tours from the Florence and the Chianti Classico area to Urbino. Fixed prices offered.

Full day tours to Arezzo, Cortona, Sansepulcro and Assisi, or your own itinerary, starting from Florence and the Chianti Classico area.

Pisa, Florence, Bologna and Forlì Airports, Livorno cruise ship port and Florence railway station transfers to and from your accommodation in Florence or Chianti.

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Tel: (+39) 055 86 56 731       Email: 

More about Maurizio's minibus tours


The Roman town of Urvinum Mataurense ("the little town on the river Mataurus") became an important strategic stronghold during the Gothic wars of the 6 C and was captured from the Goths in 538 by Count Belisarius on behalf of the Byzantine Emperor. Pippin presented Urbino to the Papacy and around 1200 it came into the possession of the nobles of nearby Montefeltro. They had no direct authority over the municipality, but, by means of intrigue, Bonconte di Montefeltro was elected podestà in 1213, with the result that the Urbinese rebelled, formed an alliance with the independent municipality of Rimini in 1228, and by 1234 were masters of their city again. In the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, by now associated with individual families and cities, rather than the struggle between Hohenstaufen emperors and the Papacy as they had been, the 13 C and 14 C Montefeltro lords of Urbino were leaders of the Ghibellines of the Marche and in the Romagna.

The most famous member of the Montefeltro family was Federico, Lord of Urbino 1444 to 1482, a very successful condottiere, a skillful diplomat and an enthusiastic patron of the arts and literature. At his court,
Piero della Francesca wrote on the science of perspective, Francesco di Giorgio Martini wrote his Trattato di architettura ("Treatise on Architecture") and Raphael's father Giovanni Santi wrote his poetical account of the chief artists of his time. Through the descriptions in Il Cortegiano ("The Book of the Courtier") written by Castiglione, Federico's brilliant court, set standards of what characterised a modern European gentleman that were valid for centuries.

Cesare Borgia dispossessed Guidobaldo da Montefeltre, Duke of Urbino, and Elisabetta Gonzaga in 1502, with the connivance of his father, Pope Alexander VI. After the Medici Pope Leo X's brief attempt to establish a young Medici as Duke, thwarted by the early death of Lorenzo II de' Medici in 1519, Urbino was ruled by the dynasty of Della Rovere dukes.

In 1626, Pope Urban VIII definitively incorporated the Duchy into the papal dominions, the gift of the weary last Della Rovere Duke in retirement after the assassination of his heir, to be governed by the archbishop. Its great library was removed to Rome and added to the Vatican Library in 1657. The later history of Urbino is part of the history of the Papal States and, after 1870, of the Kingdom (later Republic) of Italy.

Hotels in Urbino

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for hotels in Urbino

Books about Italy

Urbino: Palaces and fortresses

Palazzo Ducale, begun in the second half of the 15 C by Federico II da Montefeltro. It houses the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, one of the most important collection of Renaissance paintings in the world.

Piero della Francesca. Virgin with Child Giving His Blessing and Two Angels. (The Senigallia Madonna)

Piero della Francesca. The Senigallia Madonna

Palazzo Albani (17 C)
Palazzo Odasi
Palazzo Passionei
The Albornoz Fortress, built by a Papal legate in the 14 C. In 1507-1511, when the Della Rovere added a new series of walls to the city, the rock was enclosed in them. It is now a public park.
Raphael's house and monument (1897).

Churches of Urbino

The Duomo (Cathedral) is a church founded in 1021 on the site of a 6 C religious edifice. The 12 C was turned 90 degrees from the current one, which is a new construction also started by Federico II and commissioned to Francesco di Giorgio Martini, author of the Ducal Palace. Finished only in 1604, the Duomo had a simple plan with a nave and two aisles, and was destroyed by an earthquake in 1789. The church was again rebuilt by the Roman architect Giuseppe Valadier, the works lasting until 1801. The new church has a typical neo-classicist appearance, with a majestic dome. It houses a San Sebastian from 1557, an Assumption by Carlo Maratta (1701) and the famous Last Supper by Federico Barocci (1603-1608).
The church of San Giovanni Battista, with frescoes by Lorenzo Salimbeni da Sanseverino
Sant'Agostino, built in Romanesque style in the 13 C, but largely modified in the following centuries. The façade has a late-14th century almond portal in Gothic-Romanesuqe style, while the interior is greatly decorated. It houses a precious carved choir from the 6th century, manufactured for the marriage of Costanzo Sforza and Camilla of Aragona. The bell tower is from the 15th century.
San Francesco (14 C) was originally a Gothic-Romanesque edifice of which an 18 C restoration has left only the portico and the bell tower. The interior has a nave and two aisles, and houses the Pardon of St. Francis, a 15th century work by Barocci.
The Oratory of San Giuseppe (early 16 C) is composed of two chapels, one of which contains a 16 C presepio or Nativity scene by Federico Brandani. The stucco figures are life-sized and highly naturalistic.
The Church of San Bernardino is located outside the town and houses the tombs of the Dukes of Urbino.

Famous natives of Urbino

Donato Bramante was born nearby and witnessed Laurana's work going up while he was a youth
Raphael was born in Urbino, where his family's house may be visited
Giovanni Santi, painter and poet, father of Raphael, was born nearby
Ottaviano Petrucci, inventor of the music print with movable type, was born nearby
Bartolomeo Carusi, theologian and professor at Bologna and Paris
Federico Commandini (1509), mathematician
Federico Barocci, painter
Federico Zuccari and Taddeo Zuccari, painters, were born nearby
Bernardino Baldi, mathematician and writer
Polydore Vergil or Virgil, also known as PV Castellensis, was an English historian and chronicler who remains a primary source for the Tudor period.
Umberto Piersanti, poet
Raffaello Carboni was the author of an important eyewitness account of the 1854 rebellion by miners in Ballarat, Australia, a defining event in Australian history.

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