Friday, July 01, 2005

Urbania - Where, Eat, Sleep, Activities (not necessarily in this order)

U r b a n i a - (Il Palazzo Ducale, right)

Where is Urbania?
It's in the Le Marche region of Italy. The closest newly discovered hill-town is Urbino, birthplace of Raphael. It is in the Pesaro-Urbino province (one of 5), the northern corner of this region. The clear crystal Metauro River flows through this town, known for its ancient ceramic tradition and medieval history. Urbania was the residence of the Dukes of Urbino.

What to Do in Urbania
Visit the former residence of the Dukes of Urbino.

Situated a nice walk (toward Sant'Angelo, 1km) outside the city center, Il Barco Ducale (Ducal Park), was once the the hunting residence of the dukes.

Once in town, peruse the collection at the Civic Museum and Palazzo Ducale.
The Palazzo Ducale houses il Museo Civico (Civic Museum), la Biblioteca (Library), and la Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery). Urbania's Il Palazzo Ducale is a work of art of the Duke of Federico Montefeltro. In the Cavalieri Room there are rare mercantile maps from the Renaissance. Don't leave without visiting the Cellars (le Cantine), where there is a Museum on the History of Agriculture -- where you will gain an appreciation of the Metauro River Valley and the cycle of of wheat and importance of wine. Afterwards, view the ceramics collection in the Civic Museum. There are both ancient and modern pieces on display. INFO: tel. 0721/370.956, fax 0721/377.105

Make your way to Il Museo Diocesano (Diocesan Museum).
This museum, another Renaissance work of art, is located in a beautiful building, the Palazzo Vescovile. Museo Diocesano- Palazzo Vescovile, Via Urbano VIII. Contact: Prof. Raimondo Rossi Tel. 0722/ 319.555.

If your up for it, check out the Le Mummie (Church of the Dead).
You can only view the mummies with a guide inside this small church. Closed Monday. Contact: Giovanni Maestrini for a visit. 349.8195469 (cell)

Stroll through the Market (Il Mercato)
Visit the town market Thursday mornings. Nearby Urbino's market is Saturday mornings and larger, however if you are not in Urbino on Saturday, check out Urbania's market - especially the produce, meat and seafood (varies with season). Buy fresh fried calamari or in season vegetables. If you want a quick bite, order a mortadella panino.

Rent a bike and ride the hills of Urbania. Seek out the local monastery.
Rent from Happy Bike and explore the area on your own. Via Leopardi 28. 61040 Urbania. Cell: 0368.416546 and 0338.2921709, Tel. 0722/319010 and 0722/318763, email:

Learn Italian in this small town.
There are two language schools I know of; I attended Centro Studi Italiani. There is another school Scuola Italia. In the summer, I believe they CSI offers art and opera offerings, as the town has a lovely theater and performing arts center.

Da Mangiare - Where to Eat (These are all places I frequented in 2003.)
Bar Centrale
Bar Centrale is where everybody hangs out. There is a pool table in the back room... and I am not sure if two brothers run the joint. Anyway, in Italy a "bar" is a different concept. It sells mostly a bit of everything: coffee, sandwiches, snacks, alcoholic drinks, chocolate, etc. People don't usually loiter. I think it is open till 1am or so. The staff is friendly. My usual order was caffe' latte or the mixed drinks. L. Della Rovere. (In the Piazza, across from Caffe' Teatro)
Tel. 0722/317.319. Closed Tuesday.

Big Ben
Ristorante e Enoteca Big Ben serves up a variety of Italian food--primi e secondi e pizze. The owner is very accomodating and has lots of pasta, meat, and pizza on the menu. Good homemade pasta. Corso Vittorio Emanuele 61, 61049 Urbania. Tel. 0722/319.795. Closed Lunch/Wednesday.

Caffe' Teatro
Caffe' Teatro is a coffeeshop located next to the performing arts center/theater, which is in full-bloom during the summer opera session. There is an outdoor patio in the back and it has a gelateria. It has great desserts, sandwiches and coffee. The staff is friendly, as is in most of Urbania. I usually ordered a caffe' latte e un cornetto con ciocolatto (Nutella). Yummy. Or gelato, but the gelato in Urbino is actually better. Piazza San Cristoforo 4, 61049 Urbania.
Tel. 0722/318.738. Closed Monday.

Enoteca - Vin Itali di Zeno
You can taste wine in the comfort of your own hotel, restaurant or at this enoteca near the Duomo. It closes rather early, at 7:30 p.m., as you are to taste prior to going to dinner. Each taste is about 2-3 Euros. There is a lot of selection for this small town. If you take the bus to Urbino, there's even more selection! But you might not make the return bus back!
Via del Duomo 10, 61049 Urbania. (Near the Duomo, further back.) Tel. 0722/317.784.

La Loggia
La Loggia is where you feel like the Italians go out to eat... there and Il Buon Gustaio. Because it's not too expensive. It has a lot of pizza selection, there is a pizzeria in town, which has really really thin crust pizza, I LOVE IT!!! Anyway, I ate here at least 3 or 4 times while in Urbania, because it's just good grub, and very inexpensive. My favorites were pizza one day, pasta another or fish the next... it's really your call. Food is much more inexpensive in Urbania than in Milan or Rome, that's for sure. A can of soda will be more expensive than a bottle of wine. I liked the penne with vodka sauce. Via Bramante 5, 61049 Urbania. (Near the Duomo)
Tel. 0722/317.608. Closed Monday.

Pizzeria La Volpe
It's the thinnest pizza I have ever had--and I think it's quite good. Their menu is like a book, pages and pages long. All in Italian, of course! I always ordered the funghi or the primavera, because they are so fresh like everything in Italia! The price depends whether or not you have something to drink (vino or l'acqua) with it--because the pizza itself is quite cheap. And from what I recalled, they didn't charge a coperto (cover charge). Via Betto de' Medici 14, 61049 Urbania. Tel. 0722/317.660 (Take-out too!)

New Inn Pub
Paolo's underground pub is where all the young Urbanians hang out late at night. He's a real nice man, who serves good drinks and snacks. Paolo's got an extensive menu. Try something different. Via Gigli, 61049 Urbania. (It's on a side street, behind Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Ask around.)

Osteria del Cucco
For about 25 Euros each, we had many antipasti (including meat) and 3 pasta dishes, wine, coffee and dessert. Osteria del Cucco is a small, intimate restaurant where you may at times share the table with other patrons, if your party is not large. She has a house liqueur, licorice flavored that she offered at the end of the meal. If anyone is familiar with "slow food"--that is what she is known for. Urbania has several restaurants for its relatively small size, and they're all pretty decent. Cucco is probably one of the more expensive, along with Big Ben, which is also quite good. Everything was great, especially the dessert--house made cassata!
Via Betto de Medici 9, 61049 Urbania (On a side street; near the piazza where Caffe' Teatro and Bar Centrale are located.) Tel. 0722/317.412. Closed Sunday night and Monday.

Trattoria del Buongustaio
I remember this restaurant was packed the first time we went, in Urbania! So we were turned away! I couldn't believe it. Anyway, is that possible in a small town? Are there Italians who are poor cooks? Are there Italians who eat out that much, especially in small towns? My friends and I were in shock. We finally were able to eat here, it was good. There's no menu, they just tell you your choices. I remember coming here another night, buying a bottle of wine from them for 4 euros. They even opened it for us! That would never happen in the U.S.! They are so great! Via delle Cererie, 4. 61049 Urbania. Tel. 0722/319.411.

Supermarkets in Urbania (Mercati ed alimentari)
Conad 11 - Via Roma ang. Tasso. 61049 Urbania. 0722/318.576 (The largest of the supermarkets in central Urbania.)
Punto SMA - Piazza Martiri della Liberta' 6. 61049 Urbania. The owner, Franco, is very friendly to the students of CSI and inhabitants of Urbania.
Ugo & Ivana (Specialita Alimentari) - 0722/319.905. Very friendly couple who runs a small mom and pop shop. I failed to write down their address (their address was never on any of their receipts). It was near my apartment in Urbania and close to Conad.
Supermercati SMA - Via Cattaneo 28. 61049 Urbania. 0722/319.190. This supermarket is not in the city center, it is across the bridge, near some apartment dwellings and an artist's workshop. Very friendly, I don't think they were used to seeing the students this far out.

Where to Sleep in Urbania
Agriturismo Cal Terrazzano - Via Dei Fangacci 7. Tel. 0722/319.529.
Hotel Bramante - Via Roma 92. Tel. 0722/318.915. (2-star hotel)
Hotel Meeting - Via S. Maria del Piano 34. Tel. 0722/318.915. (3-star hotel)
For more information on where to sleep in Urbania, click here (Italian site).

Visit Official Site of Urbania (mi dispiace, Italian only).

Other Towns in Pesaro-Urbino Province I Have Visited

These are towns I've visited in the Pesaro-Urbino province, in addition to Urbania.

Acqualagna - We went browsing for shoes here in this town. Hosts the Annual Truffle Fair in fall.
Fano - Only came here once, and it was late during a cold April evening. However, all the Italians seemed to think Summer was in full-swing! Everyone was celebrating on the beaches already; I can't imagine how crazy it becomes during the real summer months. They even have a site for tourists!
Fossombrone - Took the bus here, walked around town and sought some ancient ruins. For Fossombrone's official site (in Italian), click here.
Pesaro - When I first arrived in Pesaro, it seemed so small. But after my time in Urbania, it seemed to monstruous. I guess it's all relative. Pesaro, like all seaside towns, becomes busy during the summer. This is their official tourism site for more info.
Urbino - Visited the birthplace of Raphael several times, as there was bus service daily to it from Urbania. This English site is a good welcome to Urbino. If you can read Italian, visit Urbino's site.

If possible, stop by Gola del Furlo. Beautifuly scenery, no tourists. Just clear blue-green water set against the limestone cliffs. You'll need a car for this. Dine at FURLO (Tel. 0172/700096, fax 0721/700117, Via Furlo 66) or at LA GINESTRA (Tel. 0172/797033, fax 0721/700040, Closed Monday and January).

Where to Eat in Pesaro-Urbino
(NOTE: Many of the beach towns are open 7 days a week during the summer to accomodate all the tourists. Therefore, call the restaurant to verify the most current schedule.)

IL VOCOLO Corso Roma 39. Tel. 0721/797145, fax 0721/797145. Closed July and Tuesday.
For more eats in Acqualagna, click here.
For additional recommendations, read this updated post on Acqualagna.

CASA NOLFI Tel. 0721/827066. Via Gasparoli 59, Fano, Closed Tuesday and July 15-31.
LA BUSSOLA DA DOMENICO Tel. 0721/801771. Viale Adriatico 27/a. Seafood specialty.


BRISTOLINO Tel. 0721/31609. Pazzale della Libertà 7, Pesaro. Closed Sunday.
COMMODORO Tel. 0721/33680. Viale Trieste 269, Pesaro, Closed Monday.
DA ALCEO Tel. 0721/55875, fax 0721/51360. Via Panoramica Ardizio 101, Pesaro, Closed Sunday evening and Monday and Aug. 13-30. Seafood.
DA TERESA Tel. 0721/30096, fax 0721/31636. Viale Trieste 180, Pesaro. Closed Sunday evening and Monday, Mar-Nov. NYT Review
IL CASTIGLIONE Tel. 0721/64934. Viale Trento 148, Pesaro. Closed Monday.
LA BUSSOLA DA DOMENICO Tel. 0721/69499. Viale Marconi 65. Closed Monday. Seafood.
LO SCUDIERO Tel. 0721/64107. Via Baldassini 2, Pesaro, Closed Sunday, Jan. 1-7, July.
TAVERNA DELLE SFINGI DA GIBAS Tel. 0721/69194. Viale Trieste 219, Pesaro.
For a more comprehensive list on where to eat in Pesaro, click here.

NENE' Via Crocicchia. Tel. 0722/2996, fax 0722/350161, Closed Monday and Jan 7-26.
VANDA Via Mari 4 - località Castelcavallino. Tel. 0722/349117, fax 0722/328438. Closed Wednesday, Dec 22-Jan 1, July 8-21.
VECCHIA URBINO Via dei Vasari 3/5. Tel. 0722/4447, fax 0722/4447, Closed Tuesday.

The Pesaro-Urbino Turismo Office Site is very helpful, once you figure it out. You can search for restaurants, accomodations, itineraries, etc.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

So do I really need to rent a car in Le Marche?

Transportation in Le Marche

If all you plan on doing is traveling and visiting one town after the next, maybe you should consider it. But I was able to visit several towns in Le Marche and Umbria sans car. I 'bussed' it during my month-long stay in Le Marche (Urbania), and enjoyed the scenery of the towns that we passed through to my destination -- that was always exciting. Of course, I would have to pick towns that had bus routes, but fortunately there were enough to satisfy me during my stay. When I didn't take the bus, I would go for walks around Urbania and explore the paese of 7000 or so inhabitants. Whether you ultimately choose to rent a car, take a bus, or stay near a town where there is a train station (Urbania did not have a train station), enjoy your travels as if they were your last and savor every minute!