Yesterday, I spent the day in Urbino with a couple of friends. Birthplace of Raphael, Urbino is a gorgeous walled town which sits on a hilltop in the Pesaro-Urbino province of le Marche.
The town has it origins in Roman times when it was called Urvinum Metaurense. It became an important centre during the Gothic war in the 6th Century but was an even more important centre of the Italian Renaissance. It still retains its architectural heritage and, in 1998, the "centro storico" or "old centre" was made a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We wondered about the lovely, twisty streets; visited the Oratory of Saint John the Baptist, with frescoes by the Salimbeni brothers; the cathedral and the splendid Palazzo Ducale built for Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino during the Renaissance. Raphael's "Portrait of a Gentlewoman (La Muta)" is housed in the Palazzo. (Made a lovely change from a little too much 15th century religious art...at least for my taste!).
At lunchtime, at the suggestion of a local, we ate at Il Ragno d'Oro (the Gold Spider) up near the statue of Raphael. We had la crescia sfogliata - handmade pasta rolled thin and layered to form a type of pita bread. I had one filled with stracchino, prosciutto and rocket. Delicious!
Urbino is about a 2.5 hour drive north of La Mela Rosa and Amandola but it was well-worth the trip.