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Pesaro and Urbino

  • Description
  • What to See
  • What to Do
  • What to Taste

Sea, mountains, music and majolica tiles: the splendor of nature and history unite the Province of Pesaro and Urbino, the so-called Riviera delle Colline or "Riviera of Hills."

This vast expanse of central Italy ranges from the Apennine Foothills to the Adriatic Sea. The landscape is kaleidoscopic, composed mainly of hills and highlands.
The area is a popular destination for tourists seeking a variety experiences. Geology has truly worked its wonders here, rendering the Province especially charming and unique. Pesaro is bathed by the Adriatic Sea on one side - making it a favorite beach destination - and hugged by the hills to both the city's north (San Bartolo, also a nature reserve) and south (Ardizio, dividing Pesaro from Fano), allowing for a mild climate year-round.

A visit to this area becomes a discovery of the relationship between city and sea, between the agricultural and the urban, between coast and rolling hills. In short, it is an area to explore and admire for its unusual beauty. 

Numerous itineraries make it easy to enjoy the many splendors of the Province of Pesaro. Beginning in Pesaro itself, highly-recommended is a visit to the Ceramics Museum, Italy's most important, and decorated with items from the best pottery workshops of the Renaissance age. Indeed, a majolica industry of exceptional importance flourished in Pesaro between the 14th and 17th Centuries, and in a style of decoration inspired by Raphael during the 16th Century. 

Pesaro offers many sightseeing opportunities, starting with the streets around Piazza del Popolo and the Palazzo Ducale and moving to the Civic Museums (includes the Ceramics Museum) and the Pinacoteca or Painting Gallery, with works by Giovanni Bellini, Vitale da Bologna and Guido Reni. On the opposite side of the Civic Museum is the Oliverian Archeological Museum, with valuable artworks exhibited in the 17th-Century halls of Palazzo Americi. 
The Rocca Costanza and its cylindrical towers, built by Luciano Laurana for Costanzo Sforza (1474-87), comprise a prime example of 15th-Century architecture. Pesaro is also  the birthplace of composer Gioacchino Rossini, whose house-museum is open to visitors. Every year, the conservatory and theatre, both named after him, host the Rossini Opera Festival, drawing enthusiasts from around the world. 

Also meriting visits are two villages etched into the bluffs outside Pesaro: Fiorenzuola di Focara, a picturesque Medieval village, and Casteldimezzo with its 13th-14th Century walls. Afterwards, a drive to Gradara is in order: this delightful Medieval village maintains its original defensive walls made up of towers and battlements, and its square castle, thus making for an authentic Medieval environment. Fano is a town with a wealth of historical landmarks, such as the Arch of Augustus and the Palazzo Malatesta, home to the Civic Museum and Painting Gallery, with collections ranging from the Neolithic period to the present.

Moving on to Urbino, be sure to see one of the most evocative sites here: the Fonte Avellana Hermitage and the Romanesque-Gothic Church, mentioned by Dante in the 21st Canto of his Paradiso. Visitors to Urbino will find its grandeur particularly captivating. Surrounded by 16th-Century walls built by the Montefeltro family, first is the Ducal Palace, with its winged façade that opens itself out to the city. The Palace is a symbol of a new, more humanistic architecture, where the geometric rigor of proportion dominates. The ‘Staircase of Honor,’ decorated by Ambrogio Barocci, conducts visitors into the National Gallery of The Marches, a Palace museum with invaluable artworks. In Duke Federico’s apartment reside two masterpieces by Piero della Francesca, The Flagellation and The Madonna of Senigallia, while in the Duchess’s apartment are Rafphael’s Portrait of a Young Woman (La Muta), Bramantino's The Blessing Christ, along with Titian's The Last Supper and The Resurrection, to name but a few. Finally, the Cathedral and Diocesan Museum, reconstructed in the neoclassical style after the 1789 earthquake. From there, walk along Via Raffaello to arrive at Raphael Sanzio’s birthplace, still exhibiting engravings and reproductions of his masterpieces. Urbino's extraordinary Renaissance art and architecture, which blend superbly with its Medieval past, so much so that Urbino is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Finally, visit the Ducal Palace, Sant’Angelo in Vado and the Mercatello sul Metàuro.

The Province of Pesaro consists of a striking landscape, well-suited to those who love the sea. Beautiful, remote beaches at the feet of San Bartalo and Ardizio make life near the water ideal for families and for those who want to get away from mass tourism, without sacrificing fun and entertainment

During the summer, in fact, bandsflea markets and enogastronomic events enliven the entire area. While  the beaches of Marotta are the most frequented, the area still retains a friendly and hospitable atmosphere. Between Pesaro and Fano, where the beaches are most extensive, the cliffs lining the coastline create safe coves for children. To the north, near the border with Emilia, lies Gabicce Mare, one of the most popular and lively resorts on the coast. The service is excellent everywhere; the hotels have managed to renew themselves over the years.

Opportunities for aquatic sports - such as sailing and windsurfing - also abound, as do alternatives for those who prefer to combine seaside moments with visits to the green countryside. Among the historical re-enactments not to be missed is the reconstruction of the feats of the Della Rovere family in Mondavio, comprising  the ‘Palio of the Wild Boar,’ during which representatives from the three districts challenge each other. 

The Carnevale di Fano then, boasts ancient roots, with its floats parading amidst music, lights and colors, and the handing out of candies and chocolates. The event's symbol is the vulon, a mask caricaturing the most notable people of the town. And in Gradara, the so-called ‘Seduction at the Castle’ (a celebration of shows and re-enactments between knights and dames) reigns, while in Cagli the Goose Palio is a celebration in Renaissance costumes. 

Throughout the years, the history of this Province has influenced the local cuisine - mainly composed of ancient traditions and flavors that have remained unchanged and that make every dish special. 
The visitor cannot leave Pesaro without having tried the tournedos alla Rossini, a braised fillet with ham, mushrooms, parsley, lemon and pepper. 

In addition to the seafood - often the contents of the area's brodetti or stews - a wide assortment of meats, cheese, cured meats and sausages round out the selection of products that can tempt any palate.
Another key ingredient in the local cuisine, found in some of the recipes of inland communities such as Sant'Angelo in Vado, is the truffle (white and black); together with mushrooms, it is the central component for the local vincisgrassi, a Regional variant on lasagne. 
The undisputed queen of the table in Pesaro-Urbino Province is the Casciotta d'Urbino, typical cheese labeled P.D.O.
The prosciutto from Carpegna stands out among the local charcuterie, perhaps accompanied by bread from Chiaserna or with torta al testo (a thicker version of the piadina).
The P.D.O. Olive Oil from Cartoceto is definitely worth a mention, while the Bianchello del Metauro figures as one of the best typical wines.