Back UNESCO towns and cities in the Marche

UNESCO towns and cities in the Marche

Unmissable jewels
The visit to Urbino and Fabriano, the two towns that have achieved UNESCO recognition really is an itinerary not to be missed. Urbino, listed as a World Heritage site since 1998, and Fabriano designated a UNESCO Creative City in 2013, have earned their prestigious titles due to their distinguishing characteristics that make them famous throughout the world.

Urbino for being one of the most important centres of art and architecture of the Italian Renaissance that has retained its appearance up to modern times, harmoniously in keeping with its physical environment and medieval past that make it an exceptional place.

Fabriano is known for its paper manufacturing industry and for watermarking, an invention introduced by master paper makers of Fabriano during the second half of the 13th century and boasting an invaluable artistic and cultural heritage passed on to the present day. A visit to the nearby Caves of Frasassi should not be missed, a unique spectacle of nature that will amaze visitors time after time for its extraordinary beauty that is incessantly renewed, drop by drop.

Read all Read less
Level of difficulty: media
Target: Leisure

The stages of the itinerary

  • Urbino, UNESCO city and Raffaello's birthplace
    The stage includes the following destinations: Urbino città UNESCO e patria di Raffaello

    Urbino is situated between the valleys of the Metauro and Foglia rivers. Its historic centre now boasts the honour of being included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It is  birthplace of two great artists, Bramante and Raphael, and it is home to one of the oldest and most important universities in Europe, founded in 1506. For the second half of the 15th century its windy hill was the setting for one of the most illustrious courts in Europe. Duke Federico da Montefeltro gathered around him the greatest painters, poets and scholars of his day and housed them in one of Italy's most beautiful Renaissance palaces, a palace that still stands as an eloquent memorial to this quintessential Renaissance man.
    The Palazzo Ducale is a splendid late XV century residence, one of Italy's most beautiful Renaissance palaces, defined as "a city in the form of a palace", by humanist Baldesar. It was built by Luciano Laurana (1464-1472), who designed and carried out the main part of the building, like the Torricini façade, the Cortile D'Onore and the monumental series of steps. Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who built the most important fortresses in the Montefeltro area, finished the works started by Laurana. None of the rooms of the palace were designed to oppress with grandeur but were built on a human scale and decorated with glad-hearted sobriety. Nowadays they house the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche - a remarkable collection of paintings including one of the world's greatest and most enigmatic images, Piero della Francesca's Flagellation of Christ. Other great pictures here are Piero's Madonna di Senigallia , Raphael's La Muta, the Silent One, an anonymous portrait of a gentlewoman who we feel might talk to us if she only wished to, and a famous vision of the Ideal City by an unknown hand and much used by art designers to illustrate books on the Renaissance. The Duke's Studiolo is the most unusual room in the palace. His tiny study is entirely decorated in exquisite trompe l'oeil inlaid woodwork panels, some based on designs by Botticelli.
    Urbino is the birthplace of Raphael, one of the most remarkable Renaissance artists. The house where he was born is now a delightful little museum. Further tourist attractions are: Oratorio S. Giovanni Battista entirely decorated in 1416 with wall-to-ceiling frescoes by the Marchegiani painters Jacopo and Lorenzo Salimbeni; Presepio or nativity scene of the Oratory of San Giuseppe by Federico Brandani; the elegant Cathedral with the nearby Albani Diocesan Museum; the Sanzio Theatre, built in the 19th century;  the rarely visited but nevertheless delightful Orto Botanico. You can't miss: the Collegio Raffaello, founded  by Pope Clement XI in the early eighteenth century, housing the town council hall, some offices of the Prefecture and the Cabinet Museum of Physics; the Albornoz Fortress, built in the second half of the fourteenth century by Cardinal Egidio Alvares de Albornoz. As you leave Urbino you can’t miss the tombs of Duke Federico and his son, Guidobaldo, in the fine church of San Bernardino. It was built in 1491 by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and stands on the hill above the junction for the Pesaro road.
    The famous local specialty is "Casciotta of Urbino", one of the region's handful of officially protected DOP regional food; is a delicate pale cheese made from both ewe and cow's milk  across Pesaro and Urbino province. Crescia of Urbino is another popular specialty; it is a sort of focaccia (italian bread), filled with wiith sausage, wild herbs, ham or cheese. The most remarkable events  taking place in Urbino during the year are: Festival of Ancient Music (July), the Festival of the Duke (August) and the Kite Festival (September).

  • Urbino - Raffaello Sanzio - Madonna with Child

    The earliest reference to the beautiful fresco of the Madonna and Child (solid wood fresco, 97x67 cm), preserved in Casa Santi in Urbino, dates back to the '600 when the architect Muzio Oddi, the new owner of the house, mentioned the work in its holograph memories. Initially considered as a Giovanni Santi's work, most critics agree today on attributing it to his son Raffaello, recognizing it as the first masterpiece of the painter from Urbino, then little more than a teenager.
    The fresco depicts the Madonna sitting in profile within a niche while, absorbed in reading a text, tenderly strokes her baby sleeping on her lap.
    The rarefied atmosphere and light colors remind the models that were circulating then in the court of Urbino, whereas the image is striking for the delicacy and ingenuity of the figures, intimately linked also by the contrast between light and shadow, that emphasizes the familiar and evocative nature of the work.
  • Urbino - Raphael’s Native house
    0722 320105
    The stage includes the following destinations: Casa Natale di Raffaello
    Raphael’s native house was built in the 14th century. Raffaello’s father, Giovanni Santi (1435 - 1494) purchased it in 1460.
    Giovanni Santi himself was a humanist, poet and painter at the court of Federico da Montefeltro, where Raphael (1483-1520), still very young, started to learn the first concepts of painting.
    Since then the house was purchased in 1635 by Muzio Oddi, an architect from Urbino, and then, in 1873, it became property of the Accademia Raffaello (Raphael Academy), founded in 1869 by Pompeo Gherardi, who since then promoted any kind of study and initiative dedicated to the painter. 
    On the first floor, we find a large room with coffered ceiling, where the work by Giovanni Santi, the Annunciation, is displayed together with the copies of "Madonna of the chair" and "Ezechiele’s vision". 

    Noteworthy is the "Madonna with the Child", located in the room where we suppose the painter was born, a work that the critics attributed sometimes to Giovanni Santi and sometimes to young Raphael. There are as well a drawing by Bramante (1444 - 1514) and a collection of Renaissance ceramics. On the upper floor, where the Academy is based, you can see manuscripts, rare editions, coins and portraits dating back to the 19th century.
    0722 2760
    The stage includes the following destinations: Palazzo Ducale
    Federico da Montefeltro, heroic captain and enlightened patron, lord of the Duchy from 1444 to 1482, wanted the realization of what is still considered to be one of the finest works of the Renaissance: the Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) in Urbino. Despite the lack of documents proving the birth and development of this majestic building, it is recognized by the scholars that some of the greatest artists of the time worked for it. Among the countless workers who were employed in the construction, the names of three architects stand out: the Florentine Maso di Bartolomeo, the Dalmatian Luciano Laurana, the architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini from Siena and several decorators and artists that made the building of Urbino focal a point of the Italian Renaissance. Palazzo Ducale had different stages of development; the oldest part, (known as jJole's apartment) was built by the will of Count Guidantonio, father of Frederick. It faces with its long side of the square of the Renaissance and was the starting point for the expansion and the subsequent structure of the building.
    Luciano Laurana made the facade with its impressive turrets, the study, and numerous rooms of the main floor. Around 1474, the Sienese architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini replaced Laurana in the finalisation of unfinished parts and designed the complex waterworks, futuristic at the time. With the Sienese architect, the palace experienced its greatest time. During the sixteenth century, with the succession of the Della Rovere family to the Montefeltro family, the building underwent further expansion with the addition of the second main floor.
    The Palazzo Ducale in Urbino is home to the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche (National Art Gallery of the Marche Region).

    Address: Piazza Rinascimento 13, 61029 Urbino (PU), Italy
    tel. +39 0722 322625
  • Urbino - Raffaello Sanzio - Portrait of a Gentlewoman
    The stage includes the following destinations: Raffaello Sanzio - La Muta
    National Gallery of the Marche
    oil on panel, 64 x 18 cm

    The Portrait of a Young Woman, also known as La Muta, is a portrait by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael, c. 1507-1508. It is housed in the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, in Urbino.
    The panel, from the artist's Florentine period, has been variously identified as Elisabetta Gonzaga or, more convincingly, as Giovanna Feltria, wife of Giovanni Della Rovere.
    The picture portrays an unknown noblewoman over a near-black background, showing some Leonardesque influences. Although only recently attributed to Raphael, it is ranked among the best portraits by his hand.
  • Urbino - Raffaello Sanzio - Santa Caterina d'Alessandria

    The work (an oil on panel, size 39 x 15 cm.), was originally part of a triptych, made between 1599 and 1503,(an oil on panel, size 39 x 15 cm.), probably with the role of a small altar for private devotion and includes a second tablet of similar size depicting Santa Maria Maddalena. At the center of the two saints there should perhaps be a lost image of the Virgin with the child or the Holy Family, as the invocation to the Virgin on the back of the painting: "Benedicat virgo Maria." would suggest.
    A particular element of the depiction, is a cogged wheel on the ground, a symbolic reference to the saint and her triumph over martyrdom.
    The small painting, now housed in the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche (National Gallery of the Marche region) in Urbino, was repurchased by Italy only in 1990 after finishing on the antiques market in 1955, following the dispersion of the great Florentine collection of Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi.

    Address: Piazza Duca Federico 107
    City: Urbino
    Phone: 0722.322625
  • Urbino - National Gallery of the Marche – Ducal Palace
    07222760; 0722322625
    The stage includes the following destinations: Galleria Nazionale delle Marche
    In the second half of 15th century, Urbino changed from a medieval village into a renaissance city by the will of the duke Federico da Montefeltro. In the city centre the duke built the Ducal Palace, not only the symbol of the Lord’s military power, but also of his generosity and culture. It is worth focusing on the magnificent yard, one of the best examples of renaissance architecture. Federico was one of the most refined patrons and with his wife, the learned Battista Sforza, he gathered in his court some of the most famous artists of the period: Donato Bramante, Paolo Uccello, Leon Battista Alberti, Luciano Laurana, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Piero della Francesca and the Flemish Joos Van Gent.
    The gallery was included in the Ducal Palace in 1912. The last mounting, in 1982, has been made with the aim of creating harmony between the works displayed and their rooms. In this museum there are some of the absolute masterpieces of art history: two of the most cryptic works of Piero della Francesca, the Flagellation of Christ and the Madonna di Senigallia; the Communion of the Apostles by Joos Van Gent; the Miracle of the Profanated Host by Paolo Uccello and the sublime Portrait of a Gentlewoman by Raphael.
  • Fabriano, City of the Paper
    The stage includes the following destinations: Fabriano città della carta

    Fabriano is famous worldwide for the production of paper and watermark; this invention was introduced by papermakers from Fabriano in the second half of the thirteenth century.
    The town is one of the UNESCO's Creative Cities; in 2013 it was included in the category Crafts and folk arts, beacuse of the production of handmade paper.
    So proud is the town of its traditional industry that it has dedicated an interesting modern museum to it - you'll find the Museo della Carta (Paper and watermark museum) in the former monastery of San Domenico. The Paper and Watermark Museum traces the town's fascinating history of this important craft, with centuries-old machinery and well-preserved manuscripts illustrating its prominence over the ages. The most remarkable churches are: the Cathedral of San Venanzio, built in 1600 boasting frescoes by Allegretto Nuzi in 1360; the church of San Domenico; the Church of San Filippo , the church of St Biagio and the church St Romualdo, whose crypt houses the marble sarcophagus with the relics of St. Romuald, founder of the Camaldolese order; the late-thirteenth-century Church of St. Agostino, full of valuable frescoes; the church of St. Nicola, the church of St. Benedetto, housing works by Simone de Magistris, Orazio Gentileschi and Pasqualino Rossi. You can't miss: the Oratory of the Banner, with a ceiling carved and decorated in pure gold at the beginning of the seventeenth century by French sculptor Leonardo Scaglia ; the Oratory of the Charity, frescoed by Mannerist painter Filippo Bellini from Urbino. In the locality of Poggio San Romualdo is the abbey of San Salvatore in Val di Castro, dating back to the year 1000; in nearby Campodonico is the hermitage of San Biagio in Caprile. In the central and picturesque Piazza del Comune stands the Palazzo del Podestà, a typical example of medieval architecture, built in the middle of the thirteenth century, with swallow-tail battlements; further tourist attactions are: the Fountain of Sturinalto, a smaller version of Perugia's famous fountain, built at the close of the 13thC, the Town hall, the Loggiato San Francesco, the former hospital of Santa Maria del Buon Gesù, a fine example of late Gothic architecture housing the art gallery Bruno Molajoli and boasting precious paintings on wood and frescoes by Allegretto Nuzi, Maestro di Staffolo, Antonio da Fabriano, Ottaviano Nelli, Orazio Gentileschi and Andrea Boscoli; the nineteenth-century Teatro Gentile, with a precious curtain by Luigi Serra. The theatre is dedicated to Gentile da Fabriano, Italy's greatest master of the late International Gothic style of painting, born in Fabriano in 1375. 

    The typical product of Fabriano is the "salame of Fabriano", that is a sort of salami with pieces of lard. The top quality white wine made in the area is Verdicchio di Matelica DOC wine.
    The most important event taking place in Fabriano is the Palio di San Giovanni Battista (June). During this event there are games and historical parades. In late May Fabriano hosts Poiesis , a festival including poetry, art, music and  theatre.

  • Fabriano - Civic Art Gallery "Bruno Molajoli"
    +39 0732250658
    The stage includes the following destinations: Pinacoteca Civica Bruno Molajoli
    This gallery is dedicated to the important art historian Bruno Molajoli (died 1986), born in Fabriano. It preserves one of the most important collections of mediaeval art from the Marche, currently housed in the "Ospedale di Santa Maria del Buon Gesù". The art gallery boasts precious paintings on wooden plates and frescoes by Allegretto di Nuzi, Maestro di Staffolo, Antonio da Fabriano, Ottaviano Nelli, Orazio Gentileschi, Andrea Boscoli among others. The rich wooden sculptures from the 13th Century, is an important collection not to miss, by Maestro dei Magi di Fabriano and the Maestro dei Beati Becchetti and the series of Flemish tapestries dated between the 16th and 17th Century.
  • Fabriano - Cathedral of San Venancio
    The stage includes the following destinations: Cattedrale di San Venanzio

    The Cathedral of St. Venancio is one of the most important and prestigious churches of the Marche, both for its fine architectural structures and for its works of art.

    It was first built in the Upper Medieval times. In 1253 the bishop from Camerino moved the baptismal font from Attigium to the church of St. Venancio, which therefore became more important in the surrounding area.  

    The church was widened during the 13th century and it got Gothic style shapes that still survive in the polygonal-shaped apse, in the cloister and in the chapel of St. Lawrence, where important frescos by the 14th century painter Allegretto Nuzi are preserved:  the life of Saint Lawrence and the fresco representing the Madonna with Child and Saint Venance.

    In the Chapel of the Holy Cross you can admire a Crucifixion by Allegretto Nuzi, as well as some frescoes by Giovanni di Corraduccio from Foligno and works by the Master of San Verecondo.

    The church was rebuilt during the 17th century by the architect Muzio Oddi and it was adorned by the stuccoes by Francesco Selva. In 1728 it became a cathedral, as Fabriano became the seat of a diocese, and finally, in 1963, it became a basilica.

    In the cathedral there are extraordinary works of art in Baroque and Mannerist style, such as the canvases by Gregorio Preti, Giuseppe Puglie, Salvatore Rosa, Giovan Francesco Guerrieri.  Particularly valuable are the Passion and Crucifixion scenes, painted  around 1620 by the well known painter Orazio Gentileschi, one of Caravaggio's followers.

  • Fabriano - Paper and watermark museum
    +39 073222334;+39 0732709297
    The stage includes the following destinations: Museo della Carta e della Filigrana

    Even back in the 14th century, Fabriano's paper mills were producing a million sheets of paper a year and it was here that watermarked paper was developed. Its paper is still used the world over for bank notes and quality art paper.
    So proud is the town of its traditional industry that it has dedicated an interesting modern museum to it - you'll find the Museo della Carta in the former monastery of San Domenico to the south of the town on Largo Fratelli Spacca. The Paper and Watermark Museum traces the town's fascinating history of this important craft, with centuries-old machinery and well-preserved manuscripts illustrating its prominence over the ages. Watermarks dated back to 15th and 16th century.