The witch is friendly in Italy. In order to celebrate La Befana, you need to be in Urbania around Epiphany (early January).
Befana is kind of like the U.S. Santa Claua, who climbs down the chimney and brings children small gifts if they have been well-behaved throughout the year. In Urbania there are big celebrations on 6th January; enormous stockings are hung from windows and doorways and the Befana enters the town in style and takes up her position in the little wooden house in the square under the Christmas tree. There are street artists, musicians, dancers in the main piazza.
For more information, contact: Urbania's Tourism Office (UFFICIO TURISMO): Corso Vittorio Emanuele 21
Tel. 0722 313140 - Fax 0722317988
Because we were in Urbania only 1 night and 1 1/2 days, we could not see all that we wished to see. Below are other places that are well worth a visit:
1. Temple Del Riscatto, a small, octagonal temple (Bramante) that was built around 1482 at the entrance of Porta Celle. It was ruined by the destruction of the bridge in 1944; the temple was demolished & poorly reconstructed after the war.
2.Monte Di Pieta (Pawnshop) This was established in 1512 by duchess Elisabetta Gonzaga to help people who were beset by plague & famine. Above the door a coeval image of the Pieta sculpted in sandstone is still visible.
3. Barco Ducale (The Duke's Hunting Lodge) Federico da Montefeltro erected in 1465, 5 miles of walls where the convent of the "Bichignani" had already risen. Here, he located his hunting lodge. This Ducal "Barco" was enjoyed by the Ducal family & its successors. He added a library so he could enjoy the pleasures of reading along with the pleasures of hunting.
4. La Torre Del Peglio (The Tower of Peglio) This tower is located at the highest point of the village. It has an ancient bell that dates back to 1485. The bell supposedly rang in 1492 to announce the discovery of America! It was substituted in 1980 by another bell that has the image of Saint Fortunato on it.
5. Chiesa E Convento Dei Cappuccini (Church and Convent of the Capuchins) The 1st construction was 1576, but the church we see today dates to 1758 & it hosts paintings of the XVII & XVIII centuries. The Poor Clares of Urbania moved to this location in the 1970's.
Chiesa E. Convento Di San Giovanni Battista (Church and Convent of San Giovanni Battista) Before the church was built, a Franciscan hermitic community was settled. This Church & convent were restored at the end of the XVI century, & the convent was completely rebuilt in the XVIII century.
So you can see, there are plenty of places to visit here, & I have not even listed all of them.
1. Church of the Dead. The facade has a portal in pink stone, 1380. The church leads to the Mummies Cemetery, 1831. Here a dozen "leathery mummified corpses hang like washing in a row of glass-fronted cabinets" (Marche Voyager). On display since 1813, they are preserved because of a rare type of mould.
2. Church of San Francesco was founded in 1284 & completely reconstructed in the 18th Century in sober Baroque of the Marche region.
3. Convent of San Francesco
To the right of the Church of the Dead, you see a long corridor, once a part of a cloister of the convent of the Franciscan Friars Minors Conventuals. The convent became a seminary.
4. Only the portal & a facade of the church of St. John the Evangelist (demolished in 1905) are left. But, in the Civic Museum 3 large altar-pieces are kept.
5. Church of Santa Caterina
This one has been around since the 14th Century. It's richly decorated with stuccoes, temperas on the wall, & statues.
6. Church of Madonna Dei Cassoni
This little church of Our Lady of Cassoni used to be a private oratory & keeps. Today, it is used for intimate devotion. Venerated is the Holy Virgin with the Baby by a local (XVIII) century painter.
7. Church of Corpus Domini
This one is hall-shaped & dates back to the second decade of the 16th Century. Lots of beautiful paintings are housed here.
8. Oratorio Del Carmine (Oratory of Carmine) Paintings by Giuliano da Rimini; frescos by G. Picchi.
9. Church of the Spirito Santo
This church was destroyed in 1944 by allied air-raid bombs but was rebuilt in 1949 & is dedicated to the war dead. By the way, on the 23rd of January, 1944, allied bombings killed 250 Urbanians.)
The Benedictine Abbey of S. Cristoforo del Ponte (today the Cathedral) was built in the 6th Century.
11. Diocesan Museum. Ancient Abbey Palace which is now the Diocesan Museum with sacred art and pottery.
There are several more churches and convents, but these are the ones I at least saw from outside; some inside.
The first photograph of the stone fountain shows a momument set in 1889 in the middle of what was called "campo bovario".
After World War I, "the fascist administration wanted to commemorate those who had died with a memorial monument planned in 1924 by the architect De Angelis and completed in 1926. The area was thus meant to be Parco della Rimembranza (Park of Remembrance)" (Map of city with information)
Today the park is called locally, "giardinetti"!
The park was our first impression of Urbania. It was a wonderful first impression.
At the time, there were families in the park, and the children's train was running and was the carnival swings. It's a pretty central park and must be a refuge on a hot summer day because of the multitude of trees.
I think that it is always nice to have a park, no matter of size, in the center of a town.
The one photograph with the car with the cats atop it was taken right beside the park
This is from the backside of the Palazzo Ducale (yes, another Ducale Palace and once again for Duke Federico and redesigned by Francesco di Giorgio Martini! It began as 13th-century castle, but was transformed for the Duke and became a lovely residence with a long, arcaded gallery that overlooked the Metauro Valley.
Today, the Ducale Palazzo (13th century) is the Museo Civico and Pinacoteca). It houses Castel Durante ceramics, drawings and engravings as well as the remains of Duke Federico's famous library. Especially interesting are the terrestrial and celestial globes (1541).
The Ducale Palace courtyard leads to an upper floor, which today nosts the Library as well as the Civic Museum. It is considered a simpler version fo the courtyard of the Ducale Palace of Urbino.
I was told that 15th-Century travertine pillars were built prior to the rest of the structure.
We saw the Palace at its best, during the Truffle Festival!
Every June the Oberlin students perform an opera at the "Bramante" theatre in Urbania.
I would recommend booking seats in one of the boxes in the upper levels for a great view.
The Duke's palace looks magnificent at night lit up from below and reflected in the river Metauro below.
Best seen from the bridge between Via Filippo Ugolini and Via Porta Celle.