This year, Giulio and I decided to break with Italian tradition and spend Ferragosto in an art city instead of at the beach. Ferragosto is on August 15 and is probably the nation’s favourite holiday and a pretty good excuse for the locals to do absolutely nothing for two weeks of summer.
Urbino is in Le Marche and is a World Heritage Site and a seriously spectacular medieval city. We stayed three days and the weather was atrocious. We had a few hilarious moments running from the rain. We even shacked up in the town fortress for a good 30 minutes during a thunderstorm. It was just us and the caretaker, who regaled us with incredible stories about the city.
We stayed at the Country House Il Biroccio, which was really cutesy and traditional on the inside. The internet was rubbish. It hardly worked at all, but they had a pool and the breakfast was your standard Italian fare – homemade cakes, pastries, cheese, cold cuts and yoghurt.
While we’re on the subject of food, Urbino is famous for truffles. If you’ve never tried these delicacies before then you have to go to Antiche Bonta, it’s a gourmet store/mini restaurant. We had to wait until 9:30pm to get a table. The restaurant seats about 10 people in total, but it was worth the wait. For €12, they bring you a bunch of truffle bruschetta, local cheeses and jams, truffle polenta and an array of cold cuts. You’re seated in what amounts to a wine cellar. It’s intimate and romantic, unless you’re joined by a bunch of drunk uni students, like we were, who were aggressively trying to pick up the hot waiter.
We visited during Urbino’s annual Festa del Duca. The kilted fellows in this photo were a visiting travelling band from Scotland. The three-day medieval festival is jam packed with travelling bands, jester shows, medieval reenactments, market stalls and fireworks. You have to pay €2.50 to get into the city on these days, even if you’re not interested in the festival, which is annoying, but it’s a great time to visit just because the city is so vibrant and bubbling with activity.
Urbino’s main draw card is its medieval appearance. The walls around the city are spectacular the most of the buildings and homes in the Old Town are beautifully preserved, centuries-old relics. The number one attraction is the Palazzo Ducale, which is also the city’s miscellaneous museum. I didn’t think the €5 entry fee was worth it. The exterior of the palazzo is much more impressive than the interior, which just looks like a normal art gallery.
As for day trips, Urbino is really close to both Assisi and the Italian Riviera.