Built on two large hills at the head of the Metauro and Foglia Valleys, the charming town of Urbino is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of northern Italy's hidden treasures. It is best known for its rich Renaissance legacy, including many preserved 15th century buildings.
The town actually has a long history dating back to its settlement by the Romans, though virtually nothing remains from that time. After being inhabited by numerous different groups and tribes, Urbino passed into the possession of the Counts of nearby Montefeltro - and from this point it grew in significance.
More about Urbino
Once under the control of this successful mercenary family, Urbino gained great wealth and political favour. It had soon developed one of Europe's most dazzling courts, with many of the country's finest artists and scholars furnishing the town. In fact, most of Urbino's beautiful centre that can be seen today was built during this period.
Nowadays the town is a delight to explore, filled as it is with many glorious reminders of its Renaissance past. Highlights include the spectacular Duomo and of course the Ducal Palace - a magnificent triumph of architecture that dominates the town and offers superb views over the valleys below.