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Pesaro to Urbino

Pesaro is more charming than one might expect, it is, after all, a beach town. Actually it has several beaches, surrounding two-thirds of the town's center. There are several piazze, markets, and old neighborhoods in the historic center. I happened upon the synagogue and the Jewish neighborhood on an afternoon stroll one day. Lots of gelateria and fast-food places along the beachfront, traditional restaurants near the main piazze.

Then to Urbino by bus.

The cathedral bells chimed just as Italia scored its first goal (coincidence?). The bars and cafes had tvs set up outside, and hundreds of people crowded them to watch the game. It was a festival weekend in Urbino: books, films, crafts, fresh foods (the whole truffles and fresh mushrooms caught my attention)

There is something about the light in Urbino. Even on three rainy days, when the sun did come out, the light was breathtaking. Small wonder that this is a city of art and artists. I stayed at Albergo Italia, where I had stayed on my last visit to Urbino over thirty years ago. Modern and refitted rooms, still a great hotel, across and up the street from the Palazzo Ducale's footpath. Visited several museums and oratori, my favorite was the Oratorio di San Giovanni. Frescoes reminded me of Giotto's, which the Urbino artists probably had seen. At the Duomo, I encountered a woman (Italian) taking a photo; as soon as she snapped the picture, she saw the "No photo" sign; her expression of horror was priceless. She said to me, in Italian, "What should I do?" and I replied, "You could confess", then we compounded the sin by laughing in church. I saw her and her husband later at a restaurant, and they invited me to join them. It was a lovely chance encounter and a great memory.

Urbino is also a city of hilly streets, and lots of them. Some stepped streets as well - the one to the Oratorio of San Giovanni is called a "scalette", or little stairs, but it's long. The only city streets I recall with more trepidation are in Piazza Armerina, in Sicilia.

Urbino is crowded with students and tourists, so lots of restaurants in all price ranges. For many tourists, Urbino is their only foray into Le Marche, which is a shame. The landscape reminds me a little of Tuscany: rolling hills, vineyards, castles and bell towers rise against the sky. Excellent food and wine, not many tourists and hardly any Americans (except for Urbino), but English is easily understood.

Next: Bus back to Pesaro, train to Macerata.

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