The road to Urbino is tortuous. Don't even think about it if you are pregnant or have small children!  But, and it's a big but, it's worth the effort. 

The town itself is nestled on a high sloping hillside, surrounded by olive groves and still retains much of its picturesque medieval aspect. It is home to the University of Urbino, founded in 1506, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Urbino.

Although, it has Roman origins, its peak came during the 15th century when Duke Federico da Montefeltro established one of Europe's most illustrious courts. The court attracted artists and scholars from all over Italy, influencing cultural developments throughout Europe. The Duke's patronage nurtured many of the Renaissance's most influential artists including Piero della Francesca , Raphael's father, Giovanni Santi and Baldassare Castiglione who wrote The Courtier.

A must-see is the Palazzo Ducale where the Duke and the court lived.  It still houses one of the most important collections of Renaissance art in Italy. It is also worth visiting Raphael's house, the Duomo and the "Pierina Scaramella" botanical gardens.

  •  Research before you go and lose yourself in the Italian  Renaissance. Stay for dinner and book  a hotel for the night. Also great maiolica .