Day 327: UrbinoJanuary 7, 2018 in Italy ⋅ 🌫 5 °C
Last site for this leg of the trip! In the car at the usual time, heading south-east into the mountains for the hilltop city of Urbino. This site was a flourishing centre of arts and culture during the Renaissance (thanks largely to one particular Duke), and then abruptly became a back-water. But what's interesting is that because of that, it's extremely well preserved. So we had reasonably high hopes on the hour-long drive, despite the heavy mist and fog outside.
Eventually we arrived and parked in a large parking lot underneath the town walls. Or at least that's what I think they were - it was heavily fogged in and we couldn't really see anything. But we left Schnitzel in the car and headed upstairs into the fortress town (like many Italian cities it has access-controlled central areas for local vehicles only, and heavy fines for non-compliance).
The two main things to see here were the Ducal Palace, the Cathedral and then the home of Raphael, famous Renaissance artist. We checked out each one in turn, though much of the Ducal palace was given over to an art collection which wasn't super interesting. But there were a couple of interesting rooms, and a Raphael painting similar to the Mona Lisa.
Had a look around the rest of the streets - it was quite atmospheric with the fog, but also kind of uninspiring as well sadly. It definitely looked like a Renaissance town though - aside from the street lighting and signage it felt very immersive and old. Not much to see at Raphael's birth house other than a plaque and a locked door (it's a museum that was closed on Sundays), so we went for some lunch and then headed back to the car.
Drove up to an apparently cool looking fortress on the edge of the town, but again we couldn't see anything but fog. Supposedly fog and mist is pretty common here - probably the altitude of the mountains and the warmth of the sea which isn't too far away. Maybe we just got lucky yesterday at San Marino! Drove back home, fairly unimpressed with the site sadly. Though I guess it would've been better with different weather - some of the photos we've seen look great!Read more