Land of rare natural beauty and great cultural riches Montefeltro is a region for visitors who care about quality and variety of holidays.
Urbino, the ideal capital, a world heritage city, entered on Unesco’s roll of honour; a Renaissance masterpiece, unspoilt by time.
And there are smaller places, lesser things, deserving the same attention, beauties which never fail to amaze the interested traveller.
The Montefeltro region has in truth been fortunate, possessing that rarest of gifts: a history where mankind and the land he inhabits have been united in harmony down the centuries.
fopr centuries, man has sown and reaped, protected and transformed the fruits of this land.
And the land, for its part, has drawn from man the respect and reserve of those who comprehend the essence of their own identity.
How else explain the continued existence (in a nation which has betrayed even the most beautiful of its gifts) such an unusual uninterrupted series of well-tilled fields, of untouched woodland, glorious scenery and well-tilled fields, of untouched woodland, towns and villages.
Only this innate alliance can never explain the warmth and charm of those who have nothing to hide and much to offer.
Montefeltro region, the historic Montefeltro Duchy, covers an area of about two thousand kilometres in the Pesaro-Urbino Province in Le Marche. Montefeltro has 35 Municipalities, sub-divided into 4 Mountain Communities: Montefeltro, Alta Valmarecchia, Alto-Medio Metauro, Catria-Nerone. Its borders touch Tuscany and Umbria, Emilia-Romagna and the Republic of San Marino.
Its position, at a crossroads of historic ways, helps us to form an image of this changing territory, with so many different faces.
Every mountain pass, every turn in the road gives new scenery to marvel at: from the hars mountainous outlines of Sasso Simone-Simoncello, Carpegna and Catria, Mount Nerone and Alpe della Luna, descending gradually to gentle hills sloping down to the Adriatic. Everywhere, the marks and works of man, who has laboured to build the roads linking one place to another. Innumerable places to stop, and a hospitality industry reaching to every corner, even the most remote.
Montefeltro in one of those rare lands where the visitor can travel according to a theme: art and architecture, or fine food and wine; nature reserves and environmental treasures; or all of these together.
Two thousand kilometres is a lot of ground. And the wonders you can see are never-ending.
Tavoleto takes its name from the Latin word Tabuletum, a place where the wood of the thick forests was made into benches for the constructions sites of Rome. Worth visiting is Castello Petrangolini, the Giardino Raffaello Sanzio, the church of di San Lorenzo, the church of Sant’Ercolano in Ripamassana, a small village near Tavoleto, and Monte Osteriaccia, an ancient fortress and panoramic point.
Urbino, a UNESCO Word Heritage Site, is the perfect Renaissance city and undisputed capital of Montefeltro. It contains numerous churches and buildings which can be visited including the Palazzo Ducale, residence of Duke Federico of Montefeltro, Raffaello’s house, the Duomo, the former monastery of Santa Chiara, the Mausoleo dei Duchi, the Teatro Sanzio and many others besides. The city is a cultural centre and home to the university of “Carlo Bo” and two prestigious art institutions such as the Accademia di Belle Arti and ISIA, the high school of creative industries. The typical culinary product of the area is the Casciotta of Urbino, an ancient variety of cheese which boasts the Protected Designation of Origin label – DOP.)
In the past, Urbania, the ancient Casteldurante, could boast of over 40 kilns and at least 150 majolica workshops which produced exquisite artistic ceramic articles, considered the most beautiful of the Renaissance period. The ceramic tradition still thrives today. There are numerous attractions in the town of Urbania such as: the Palazzo Ducale, the beautiful Barco, summer residence of the Dukes of Urbino, numerous churches including the Chiesa dei Morti, the peculiar cemetry of Mummies, the Diocesan Museum with its collection of ceramic objects, the Bramante theatre, several fascinating parts of the historic centre and the fascinating Ponte dei Cocci.
Talamello, lying in the heart of the Montefeltro, is a centre of arts and flavours. It is situated on the slopes of Monte Pincio on a wedge of sandstone rock. Particular caves have formed there and the FOSSA cheese (cheese of the pit), typical of the area, is matured inside them. Also worth mentioning is the production of Valmarecchia chestnuts. Talamello therefore is important for its work with local products. The Gualtieri art gallery contains numerous frescos of great value.
In 1463 the castle of Sasso was permanently taken over by Federico da Montefeltro (Duke of Urbino) in person, after a violent siege. Given its strategic importance, the castle of Sassofeltrio was completely re-built on the site where the destroyed Malatestiana castle once stood. The task of re-building the castle was given to one of the greatest military architects of the time, Francesco di Giorgio Martini from Sienna. Today there are only traces of the castle. The rock overlooking the town has now become a park and visitors can admire, from its 466 metre height, the spectacular views spanning the Adriatica, the mountain of Carpegna and the entire Conca valley all in one glance.
It is said that Sassocorvaro derives from the “stone nest of crows” given that a large number of these birds still nest on the hills today. Others believe that the town took its name from the lating word “corbis”, meaning basket, due to the characteristic form of the hilltops on which the fortress and entire town are situated. The fortress, which has jealously guarded treasures of art of great importance in the past, has once again take up this role by housing the Museum of Art.
Sant'Angelo in Vado
Sant’Angelo in Vado lies on the ruins of the ancient Tiphernum Mataurense whose name derived from tipher or tifia, the water plant which grows in marshland. The remains of the town, a substantial part of the Roman district, are conserved in the under the Campo della Pieve, an important archeological site. Like other towns of the Marchigian inland area, Sant’Angelo in Vado is well-known for its prized tuber, the exquisite white truffle.
Sant’Agata Feltria is a mountain town in the upper Marecchia valley and is characterised by a fortress which now houses a museum. The town has conserved its historic centre and several monuments of historical note including the convent and church of San Girolamo and in particular the theatre of Angelo Mariani, built entirely in wood, which is one of the oldest theatres in Italy. The town is overlooked, from the top of Mont’Ercole, by a majestic chestnut forest. The town is well-known for its truffes.
San Leo, said to be the real Montefeltro, is located on a huge rocky inpenetrable mass in the Marecchia valley. It can be reached by the only road cut out of the rock. The town boasts of wonderfully preserved architectural marvels such as: the pre-Romanic church, the Romanic Lombard cathedral dating back to the 12th century, the Fort, the Medici Palace, as well as the ruins of several castles scattered in and around the town including those of Pietracuta and Piega, the Franciscan convent of S.Igne, the Dominican convent of Monte di Pietracuta and the church of Montemaggio.
Piobbico lies at the foot of Monte Nerone, at the convergence of two rivers, the Biscubio and Candigliano which join in the centre of the town. Surrounded by green countryside, the town is characterised by the Castello Brancaleoni, who were the traditional historic dynasty of the town. There are several churches to visit and nature trails to explore.
Pietrarubbia, characterised by the particular colour of its rock (the name Petra Rubea indeed means “red rock”), began as an important Feretrano fortified castle during the late medieval ages. The town, which has been completely restored, is one of the most beautiful places in the Montefeltro. Indeed this magnificent site enchants the visitor with its air of mystery generated by dramatic scenery, cliffs, valleys, paths, pastures, steep drops and powerful scents. It is no surprise that a great artist such as Arnaldo Pomodoro built a school of metal art there. Like Piandimeleto, Pietrarubbia also lies within the Regional Nature Park of Sassi Simone and Simoncello.
Piandimeleto lies in the river Foglia valley and still maintains its walled historic centre, its perpendicular roads, the “door of the dead” and the spectacular castle of the Oliva counts. Today this castle houses several museums including the farming and earth science museums. There is also a complete herbarium which contains a collection of plants and flowers from the Marches and wood material from the Montefeltro. Worth visiting is the village of Cavoleto which lies on a tuff stone outcrop ledge overlooking the narrow and deep valley which the Mutino torrent has dug out during its tempetuous flow down the slopes of Monte Carpegna. San Sisto is a strategic spot ideal for human settlement. The fortified structures of its castle were destroyed during the Second World War. Piandimeleto lies within the Regional Nature Park of Sassi Simone and Simoncello.
Petriano owes its name (Prae tres amnes: above three rivers) to the three rivers which flow through it. Like all fortified towns, it is situated on a hill, and this location gave the town the strategic advantage of being able to look out for enemies in the old days. The Raffaello spa is located within the town and is surrounded by the green hills of the Montefeltro, from which the sulphur rich waters spring.
Built on the rocks of della Rupe and del Roccione, Pennabilli is a characteristic medieval town. It owes its town design to the unification of two castles, Billi on the Rupe and Penna on the Roccione. Today Pennabilli is a thriving tourist and cultural centre of the highest standards. There is a variety of cultural places to visit such as castles, towers, the Vittoria theatre and churches scattered around the town. The natural environment also makes the town an ideal place in which to enjoy nature. As a matter of fact 50% of the area in and around Pennabilli is part of the Sasso Simone and Simoncello park.
Peglio is a small town of the Montefeltro standing on a rocky spur. Its church, dedicated to its defender S. Fortunato bishop of Todi, was one of the oldest churches in the diocese of Urbino. The church of San Fortunatocontains two crypts and the Stations of the Cross in terracotta possibly dating back to 1700 and probably produced by the ceramic workshops near Casteldurante. Also worth mentioning is the belltower of medieval origin reworked over the course of the centuries which still preserves today the original architectural structure and the majestic grindstone located within the small village and which are definitely worth checking out.
Novafeltria is a large town which gathers many different stories from the incredibile tales of the sulphur mines in Perticara and Miniera, to those of the mills along the river Marecchia, as well as the reconstruction of the medieaval villages against a backdrop of badlands and ravines. Evidence of the traditional milling activity can be seen along the river in the old mills, some of which are still active today, used for the grinding of cereals and the production of electricity. A real rarity is the mill producing gunpowder which, recently restored, still contains original wooden pounders. The production of gunpowder was connected to the extraction of sulphur from the mine in Perticara. A railway was built to transport the sulphur and the old railway station is a symbolic remainder of the small train which travelled along the Novafeltria-Rimini line.
The area including and around Monte Grimano contains the whole variety of environments existing in the upper Conca valley, ranging from the river to the hills.The historic centre of Monte Grimano developed around the ancient tower which stood in the middle of the fortified walls.Worth visiting is the parish church of S.Silvestro, the town hall building, the fountain and the old square. Much mention has been made in works from previous centuries about the healthy properties of the water of the town which is indeed called Montegrimano Terme.
The town is situated in the upper valley of the river Conca and is well-known for its nature trails and heavy snowfalls which makes it an ideal place for winter sports. Part of the Montecopiolese territory belongs to the Regional Nature Park of Sasso Simone and Simoncello. At the two far ends of the town of Villagrande, there are the ruins of two castles: the main castle of Monte Copiolo and the smaller castle of Monte Acuto (today called San Marco). The Monte Copiolo castle, with its important ruins buried amid the green conifers, provides significant material for archeological research as well as being a tourist attraction. There are also the ruins of the small castle of Monte Boaggine.
Montecerignone rises from the spur of a rock in the middle of a small valley in which the river Conca flows through. A visit to the the town is strongly recommended because of the beauty of its unspoilt 14th century town structure, as well as the presence of numerous churches and the majestic citadel which today houses the town hall.The Valle di Teva is present and famous for “the abundance of flowers and fruit produced by a fertile terrain productively cultivated and the flow of mineral water which is so light as to gently warm the palate as well as the particular intelligence which the goddess Minerva has bestowed on the inhabitants”Giovanni Ercolani de’ Sarti.
Monte Calvo in Folgia
The name Montecalvo indicates the stark nature of the landscape characterised by clay hills and striking badlands. The hill upon which the town is situated was an important outpost on the confines of the Montefeltro and Malatesta lands, and had a fundamental strategic role in the defence of the two dominions which fought over its ownership. The oldest historic centre has conserved the two old walls and the remains of the watchtower. Worth noting is the animal sanctuary of “Badia”, where numerous species of migratory birds have their stopover.
The town has developed in the centre of the valley of the Conca river. In the past the river caused much flooding destroying a large part of the town itself, although it also favoured industrial activities such as a fulling mill, a dyeing plant, a textile printing factory with mangles and mills, a woolen mill and a hydraulic lime kiln. The mills were used for the grinding of cereals and woad, a flowering plant the leaves of which produce a blue dye used in local dyeing plants to dye fabrics. It is still possible to visit the old water mills which were used for this activity. Mercatino Conca, as the name itself suggests, is also known for its Friday market which were once held in piazza Verdi, where sellers and families gathered.
Mercatello sul Metauro
This is a pleasant town nestling in the green upper Metauro valley surrounding by unspoilt and delightful landscapes. The medieaval historic centre is completely unspoilt and its original structure has been conserved. Worth visiting is the Collegiate Church of San Francesco, the Palazzo Ducale and Palazzo Gasparini. Since 2002 Mercatello sul Metauro has been awarded the Orange Flag which is given by the Touring Club Italiano to the inland region for the quality of environmental tourism
The small town of Maiolo, situated in the middle valley of the river Marecchia, is a scattered mountain community which has taken the place of a nearby village of the same name destroyed by a landslide in 1700. Today Maiolo has conserved its small hamlets, the old peasant houses and its small squares without being ruined by the relentless housing block construction. The spectacular sunrise, the sweeping views of Monte Fumaiolo all’Alpe della Luna, Monte Carpegna, the towers of San Leo and San Marino as far as the coast, make Maiolo a unique observation point for the Marchigiano territory and Montefeltro. The town is particularly famous for its typical bread made with local flour and traditional methods which has its own fair at the end of June called Festa del Pane.
Towards the massif of Carpegna, between Val Conca and the upper Val Foglia, lies the town of Macerata Feltria, geographical and historic centre of the territory, which despite being broken up into hollows, spurs, mountains and valleys, has a unified landscape, historical and cultural entity in the form of the Montefeltro. The current aspect of Macerata Feltria is symbolic of the history of many Italian towns, divided into a nucleus with the castle dominating and then later the village itself. As soon as we leave the town we can visit the archeological excavations of Pitinum Pisaurense, the 11th century church of San Cassiano and the Pitinum Thermaewhich has used sulfur water since ancient times due to its therapeutic qualities.
Lunano is characterised by a castle which overlooks the valleys surrounding the town. Set up a little after the old millenium, the castle stood on a hill at the confluence of the Mutino torrent with the Foglia river. Today we can see what remains of the castle: the doors, road, walls, well, church and tower. Near Lunano it is worth noting the Franciscan convent of Monte Illuminato where legend has it that S. Francis of Assisi performed a miracle when he stayed there in 1213. In addition to the presence of the prized truffle, it is worth mentioning the chestnut forest of Monte della Croce which produces chestnuts of the finest quality.
Frontino nestles in front of the Carpegna mountain, and overlooks the valley of the Mutino river, whose stones pave the town’s roads and were used to build the beautiful towers and castle walls. Worth visiting is the Franciscan Convent of Montefiorentino, with its Oliva Chapel, the jewel and treasure of the Renaissance, as well as the Hermitage of San Girolamo and the Vandini Palace. Like other towns in this area, a water mill dating back to the fourteenth century is present, and it used to supply flour and bread to the castle. Even Frontino is part of the Regional Nature Park of Sassi Simone and Simoncello.
This town, dating back to Roman times and located on the left bank of the river Metauro, has a small but significant historic centre containing some beautiful architectural monuments such as the tall medieval Tower of the Militia and the splendid three-arched bridge which crosses a spectacular waterfall. The paper mill set up by the Montefeltro family was once famous, followed by a wool and pasta factory. The well-known painter Donato Bramante was born there. Fermignano is part of the Nature Riserve of the Furlo Gorge.
A small Romagnolo town, Casteldelci is situated on the slopes of Monte Fumaiolo, the source of the Tevere, and boasts a thousand year old history with cultural influences from the nearby region of Tuscany. The most famous person of that town was Uguccione, a valiant adventurer and friend of Dante Alighieri, as well as being lord of Pisa, Luca and Arezzo. He came to the defence of the Ghibellines along the Marecchia to Rimini, and stayed at the castle of Faggiola in Casteldelci.
Carpegna, is the main town of Montefeltro, and lies on the edge of Mount Carpegna, surrounded by the green of its beech forests. It is the centre of the rugged and at the same time gentle Montefeltro which was the land of saints and adventurers, of dark legends and history. Near the town there is the Regional Nature Park of Sassi Simone and Simoncello of which it is the main town. A dense network of well-marked footpaths allows for interesting excursions such as the “Città del Sole”, which takes place right on Sasso Simone.
Cantiano is a small town at the foot of Monte Catria. The Via Flaminia crosses through it and it contains a characteristic mediaeval historic centre and an abundance of archeological ruins. Nature is intact here given that its geographical structure has caused it to lie between two ridges. It also contains significant palentological sites. In addition it is known as the “City of Bread” and has become the theatre for one of the most important events of popular drama in Italy which takes place on Good Friday: “La Turba”.
Cagli is the third biggest town in the Marches. It is rich in historical buildings, churches and squares and is immersed in the deep green of the Apennines. The town has always been a productive arts, cultural and trade centre, famous for its wool (and later silk) manufacturing and leather tanning. It is worth visiting the important archeological site of Ponte Mallio, at the entrance to the town, the theatre where theatrical companies rehearse their shows before performing them in the biggest theatres in Italy, as well as the numerous churches containing precious paintings and works of art.
In Borgo Pace the two torrents of Meta and Auro merge to give rise to the Metauro river, the longest in the Marches region. In addition to the spectacular landscapes of Alpe della Luna, visitors can admire the Benedictine Abbey of Lamoli, dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo and numerous other spiritual places of religious importance.
The castle of Belforte all’Isauro was built in the late medieval period upon a previously existing Longobard settlement of the 4th century A.D. and casts a protective eye over the town which nestles in the hills of the Marchigiano Apennines between Umbria and Tuscany. In the month of October there is the Honey Festival in which local honey and other seasonal products are sold.
This town confines with Emilia Romagna. From the middle ages to 1463 the area around Auditore was constantly tied to the history of Rimini. In this town there is the most important World War museum existing in the Marches region. It contains over 3000 relics retrieved from the battlefields of the Gothic Line which belonged to the opposing armies.
This town is situated near the magnificent Furlo Gorge and is famous for its research, production and sale of the prized truffle. Those visiting Acqualagna, along the Via Flaminia, will be able to explore not just the splendid Nature Reserve of the Furlo Gorge, rich in flora and fauna, but also the historical Benedictine Abbey of San Vincenzo and numerous archeological sites of Roman origin such as the Villa Colombara. Acqualagna is also well-known for its stone. In fact the area is famous for its chimney production industry.
This is a mountain town characterised by a rich landscape of green pastures, snowy peaks, springs of mineral and sulfur water, populations of deer, wild boar and wolves as well as the Great Golden eagle. Apecchio has also been the refuge of numerous peoples in the past such as: the Picentes, Umbri, Celts, Etruschans, Romans and the emissaries of the Papal State, and they all left countless traces of their passage. For the last few years Apecchio has been producing its own beers and grappa. There are two breweries which produce different kinds of beer and export it all over the world. The crowning glory of this area is undoubtedly the truffle which is of the highest quality in every season.