While planning a trip to le Marche, you might want to know if Urbino, Italy is worth visiting. Along with Florence, Urbino is known as the cradle of the Renaissance. So you would think everyone would know about Urbino. Yet the most common thing people ask about it online is, is Urbino worth visiting?
Here are eleven reasons we think you’ll love visiting this tiny hilltop town in the Marche region of Italy. Plus, why Urbino remains a hidden gem in Italy and why we think you’ll love discovering it.
1. Urbino Italy is Famous For its Renaissance Impact
Urbino is famous in Italy and throughout Europe as an influential cultural center during the Renaissance. Its Renaissance standing is owed to one man, the Duke of Urbino. The Duke, also known as Federico da Montefeltro, invited many scholars and artists to Urbino. In fact, he created a literary treasure trove in Italy only rivaled by the Vatican. Thus despite being a small hilltop town, Urbino is known as the “cradle of the Renaissance.” alongside none other than Florence. Hence Urbino is worth visiting because it offers the chance to step back 500 years in time to Renaissance Italy.
2. Urbino is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Unfortunately, after the death of the Duke, Urbino slid into a period of economic and cultural stagnation from the 16th century on. Ironically that’s a good thing for visitors today because the stagnation protected the Renaissance influence in Urbino. This near-perfect preservation is so unique that Urbino as added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998.
While we try to curate as many videos as possible in English, there are times when only an Italian video will do. If you want a translation, there is a YouTube trick you can use. YouTube has closed captions in multiple languages. Here is how to get them working. Hit play. Then click the CC bottom to turn on the closed captions. Next, click the settings button (gear-looking wheel) and select Italian auto-generated. After the window automatically closes, click the settings button again. Then click auto-translate and your preferred language.
FroFrom the architecture to the layout of the streets, stepping into Urbino is like stepping back in time. In a good way because there is also an equalizing factor to balance the old and the new in Urbino.
3. Urbino is a Vibrant University Town
The population of Urbino in 2023 was only 13,000 people. Many of which are young students attending the University of Urbino, which means this small community is young and vibrant.
In other words, Urbino is not just a World Heritage Site with a remarkable legacy of Renaissance culture. It also offers fun bars, museums, galleries, restaurants, and wine bars.
Here is a quick video highlighting what students love about Urbino and the energy and enthusiasm they bring to the town.
4. Urbino Has Epic Views of the Marche Countryside
Perched on a hilltop on the northeastern slopes of the Apennine, the walled city of Urbino offers uninterrupted views of the lush Marche countryside. Plus, Urbino itself is breathtaking from the hills outside the city.
Inside Urbino, look for the Carlo Bo path near the bottom level of the Ducal Palace (featured on the walking map below) for the best views of the surrounding Marche countryside.
Take a walk along Belvedere Piero della Francesca park just inside the Santa Lucia gate for an elevated view inside the walls of Urbino and the Marche countryside beyond.
Or head to Resistance Park for the best views of Urbino.
5. Resistance Park a Relaxing Fountain of Youth
In the 14th century, Cardinal Grimoard decided Urbino needed a defensive fort. Thus Fortezza Albornoz (Albornoz Fortress) and Resistance Park surrounding it have the best view of Urbino.
Today this area is a relaxing haven for local families, students, and tourists. In the afternoon before Aperitivo, students sit in circles to relax, play music, study, and read together. Join them by relaxing with a coffee or cocktail at La Fortezza Bar & Ristoro by the fortress.
Like us, if you are past your college days, spending just an hour or two relaxing in Resistance Park will make you feel young again.
6. Urbino is Also Entertaining
Buzzing with energy, the streets of Urbino are safe day and night. It’s a good thing because although Urbino is small, its entertainment options are plentiful. So if you only have a day or two in Urbino, you’ll need the entire day and night to take in all the sights.
Here’s a list of attractions and a walking map of Urbino to help explain why we think Urbino Italy is worth visiting for more than a day.
Walking Map of Attractions in Urbino Italy
7. The Food Alone Makes Urbino Italy Worth Visiting
You’ll work up an appetite exploring Urbino because life in a small hilltop town means walking up and down hills.
Thankfully being a university town, Urbino has dining options at every price point. From formal restaurants to sandwich shops and wine bars.
Whatever you do, do not leave Urbino without trying Crescia. While this little panino (sandwich) might look like nothing special (last photo in the gallery above), there’s a reason it’s a local favorite.
The bread is a revelation. The name Crescia sfogliata (grows leafy in English) reflects the layers formed by a dough made with lard, egg, and black pepper. Imagine a dense, warm puff pastry with just the right amount of chew, and you’ve got the idea. Here’s a recipe for Crescia Sfogliata di Urbino if you want to try it at home!
8. Art Makes Urbino Italy Worth Visiting
The famous painter Raphael was born in Urbino, Italy. Raphael and his fellow painters Michelangelo and Leonardo are collectively known to art historians as the best-known trifecta in art history.
The birthplace of Raphael d’Urbino (as he’s known in Italy) is now a museum you can visit in Urbino. Additionally, you can explore artwork from Raphael and fellow Renaissance artists in the National Gallery of Le Marche in Urbino.
Although these three artists worked in other cities, there is no shortage of Renaissance art in Urbino thanks again to Duke Federico III de Montefeltro. Together they turned Urbino into one of the centers of culture in Renaissance Italy.
9. Ducal Palace & the National Gallery of the Marche
The National Gallery of the Marche is inside the Ducal Palace, seen in the picture below.
Built under the orders of Federico da Montefeltro, his palace served two purposes. The first was to promote the glory of his family. The second was more personal. The Ducal Palace was Federico da Montefeltro’s headquarters for his military, political, and cultural endeavors. Above all, it served as a place for the Duke to express his standing as a man of the Renaissance. Thanks to the preservation of Urbino, the Dual Palace remains a breathtaking sight to see today.
10. If Urbino Italy is Worth Visiting? Why’s it a Hidden Gem?
If you are looking for a hidden gem to avoid the crowds and experience authentic Italy, look no further. Urbino is it. Why? Because Urbino is in le Marche, a region in Italy that has never relied on tourism dollars.
In 2019 only 10% of the regional GDP in le Marche came from the tourism sector. Instead of tourism, le Marche is setting the way for Italy in renewable energy.
The region’s share of renewable electricity generation is 92.9%. Meanwhile, the national average in Italy is 55.9%. In other words, Marche is at the forefront in Italy to help mitigate climate change, reduce the emission of air pollutants and improve energy security.
Hence despite being beautiful, Urbino lies in a region that remains uncrowded because tourism is not a primary source of revenue.
While that might not sound like a sexy reason to visit, consider that one of the hard truths about living in Italy is air-quality issues. Urbino, on the other hand, is surrounded by the Marche region, where clean air is a priority.
11. Urbino Italy is Worth Visiting Because It’s Beautiful & Affordable
Since it remains a hidden gem, Urbino remains uncrowded. That means the average hotel price in Urbino is €106 a night. Plus, if you are traveling on a budget, Urbino is perfect because there are plenty of options for inexpensive yet delicious meals for the local student population. Here are a few of our favorite spots.
- Wine with gourmet snacks Tempo Sala da Vino
- A lowkey drink with an epic view Caffè del Teatro
- Aperitivo and live music L’HOST: wine beer & something else
- Try local favorite Crescia at Piadineria L’Aquilone
- The Pizza and craft beer at Amici Miei Ristorante Pizzeria are absolutely worth the drive! Just be sure and make a dinner reservation because this is a local favorite.
Plus, here is a little parking hack for Urbino we discovered thanks to the host of our holiday house. If you plan to stay in the countryside to enjoy the Marche while visiting Urbino, look for a place like the one we’ve recommended below that includes free parking.
Then when you zip into Urbino for the day, park at the Porta San Lucia shopping mall (point two featured on the map above). Located just above the bus station, this is the best parking in Urbino because you can get your parking ticket validated for a few hours of free parking. All you have to do is take your parking ticket to the grocery store in the mall. After you make any purchase (even a pack of mints will work), validate your ticket at the checkout.
Where to Stay in Urbino
If you’re looking for an affordable Italian countryside stay near Urbino, we cannot say enough how much we enjoyed our stay at Country House Ca’ Brunello. Having affordable places like this is one of the top reasons we say Urbino Italy is worth visiting.
The hospitality options surrounding Urbino in the Marche region are top-notch and far less expensive than Tuscany. The images below show the views from Country House Ca’ Brunello.
To clarify, we don’t receive kickbacks for our recommendations. To be on our list of countryside stays in Italy, the places must exceed our expectations based on the price per night. They must also offer views of the Italian countryside and the warm hospitality Italians are known for.
Is Urbino Worth Visiting?
In summary, yes, Urbino Italy is worth visiting. Not only is Urbino famous alongside Florence for being the cradle of the Renaissance, it’s also one of the most well-preserved examples of a Renaissance town in the world. Balance that with the vibrant energy brought to Urbino from the University, and you have the perfect balance of art, history, and modern fun.
Above all, Urbino is only 30 miles from the Adriatic shores in the Marche region. Hence Urbino is blessed with coastal winds and fresh countryside air. In fact, Urbino sort of has it all. Clean air, check. Beautiful views. Check. Art and culture, check, check. Plus delicious and affordable food and accommodations. Oh, and let’s not forget being an uncrowded hidden gem. So yes, Urbino Italy is worth visiting.
Don’t miss this video from Sara & Paolo Adventures below. It sums up the experience of visiting Urbino beautifully. Plus, you know Urbino Italy is worth visiting when two Italian travel Vloggers say this.
URBINO the most underrated city in Italy 🏛️ Historic center is among the most BEAUTIFUL ever seen.Sara & Paolo Adventures
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We’re Brandy Shearer (Author) & Paolo Ferraris (Photographer), two budget-savvy Italian introverts, artists, and dual citizens living in the Italian Alps. We show you how to avoid crowds and save on travel by exploring Italy in the off-season. From popular destinations to hidden gems, get a taste of la dolce vita in your inbox by subscribing below.
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