…and this brings us to Urbino. Hynda and I decided that we needed to leave Rome due to the crowds that were descending on Rome. Our original plan was to do a four day bike trip south of Salerno on the coast of Italy. This was scraped due to the weather forecast (rain) and the fact that the pollen was so bad here that the King could not bike for more than an hour before his eyes starting to run and itch and he started to cough. Instead, we decided to go north to Urbino a hilltop town in the Marche region of Italy and about 200 km north and east of the city.
Urbino is a university city so there are lots of young people here. In the beginning of the 14th Century, Frederico da Montefeltro, the Duke of Urbino, decided he would allow Jews to come to Urbino and settle there with none of the usual restrictions on what they could do or where they needed to live. By the end of the 15th century one-third of the population of Urbino was Jewish. In 1631 Urbino was annexed by the Papal State (Catholic Church) and the usual restrictions were put on the Jews so that most left for greener pastures. Those that remained were placed in a ghetto and could no longer money lend, hire non-Jews, doctors could not treat non-Jews and the rest of the usual restrictions. They remained in the ghetto until 1861 when this part of Italy was united as part of the new country.
To get to Urbino we rented a car from a Hertz office close to Termini – the railroad station. It was a Fiat Panda – a small car that handled very nicely on the roads. When we picked up the car in the parking lot it took about 10 back and forth moves to get it out of the parking spot. Although it looks like there is some room in the front of the car it was parked less than an inch from the wall on the passenger side.
This is the view of Urbino from a park at the very top of the town. If you look at the scaffolding of the Duke’s Palace and follow it down, our hotel room window is just below the roof line. As you can see it is cloudy and misty. It rained every day we were there.
We stayed at the Albergo Italia which was right in the center of the city right off the main square Piazza Republica. It is just a plain hotel – nothing special but very clean. We were literally right at the elevator that brought you up from the main parking lot below the town. As part of the parking fee if you stay in town you get to ride the elevator for free and save the 50 cent fee!!! There were very few guests and we were often alone for a very nice breakfast.
Urbino is the classic hilltop town so you can expect to walk either up or down some very steep streets. It was raining for the three days we were there and it was very slippery.
Urbino is the home of Raphael and this is the house he was born in – in 1483. You can tell by the size of the house that his father was very successful. He was a very well-known painter, Giovanni Santi.
Ducale Palazzo (Duke’s Palace)
The largest room in the Duke’s Palace was the Throne Hall. It is almost 60 feet high and over 110 feet long. This room was probably completed in 1474.
The Queen is standing in the Duke’s personal chapel.
A lot of the doors in the Duke’s Palace were made of inlaid wood. You could only see the detail when you got close to the doors. This door was to a room that had all inlaid walls and ceilings.
In the Ducale Palazzo (Duke’s Palace) there were some very interesting paintings. This one depicts one woman whose breasts were cut off and she is holding them in a tray and one woman whose eyes were cut out and she is holding them in a cup. These are some of the same martyrs that are pictured in Santa Stefano in Rotunda in Rome.
Not sure what is going to happen in the painting on this plate but the poor guy with an arrow in him would appear to be about to get an arrow to his penis.
The Italian artist Bramante was born close to Urbino and some of his paintings were on display in the Ducale Palazzo. He was famous for perspective art.
Synagogue and Ghetto
This is a picture of the synagogue - building on right in what was the Jewish ghetto of Urbino. It is only open in the summer and the pictures on the Internet show it as completed restored. There is no sign indicating it is the synagogue but it is on the tourist maps.
This portal entry to the city was the entrance to the ghetto. The synagogue was just through the gate and to the right.
Eating in Urbino
Antica Osteria da la Stella
On the first night we decided to go to the number two rated Trip Advisor restaurant in Urbino. It was a little fancier than we were used to and almost everyone there was dressed up except us. The settings were very nice and the food was fantastic. We liked the silverware so much that we actually had bought a set to bring home to DC when we returned to Rome. The host brought us over some items we did not even order (soup to start and a desert at the end). The King had a fried cannelloni stuffed with cheese and spinach. The Queen had a ricotta and red pepper dish with small potatoes.
La Taverna Degli Artisiti
This small restaurant was rated #15 of those in Urbino. Although we did not go to many there we thought it should be rated higher. The Queen had a gorgonzola chicken with radiccio and the King had a pasta with pesto, tomatoes, cheese and zucchini. It appeared that the location was in an old cellar and had interesting painted ceilings.
Cornetteria Pecatti di Gola
We found this place through Trip Advisor – ranked number 3 in Urbino. The rough translation for ‘pecatti di gola’ is gluttony. Could not understand why this little place would be listed as the third place to visit in Urbino until we tried the pastries. Their pastries are all homemade and our favorite was a plain cornetto which the owner will inject with pistachio if you ask him….and when I say inject I mean it and he fills it up…not just some little cream in the center!!!
The plain cornettos before injection are on the bottom left. The ones on the right are already filled with the normal stuff like chocolate, fruit or cream. I know it just looks like you typical Dunkin' Donuts but it is not...
A close up of the top shelf.
Gelato La Romana
It seems that the new gelato store that opened up on XX Septembre near our apartment is actually part of a chain. There was one in Urbino and we needed to stop in since there were no lines (in the rain) and we could compare it to our favorite in Rome – Tropical Ice. Using the Chocolato Fondente as the measure this gelato ‘sucks’!!!
The translation is ‘smoking tobacco is bad for your looks and your teeth’.
This is a murano glass chandelier in a church in Urbino.