Urbino is an Italian town and together with Pesaro, capital of the Marches.
It was one of the major centers of the Italian Renaissance, of which still today retains its architectural heritage. Since 1998 its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage.
Cesare Borgia dispossessed Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino, and Elisabetta Gonzaga in 1502, with the help of his father, Pope Alexander VI. After the attempt of Medici Pope, Leo X, to appoint a young Medici as duke, Urbino remained part of the Papal States, under the dynasty of Della Rovere dukes (1508-1631). In 1523 they moved the court to the city of Pesaro and Urbino began a slow decline that would continue until the last decades of the XVII century. The most famous member of the Montefeltro was Federico, lord of Urbino from 1444 to 1482, a successful leader, skillful diplomat and an enthusiastic patron of arts and literature. In 1444, took over as the natural son of Guidantonio, after the conspiracy and murder of the legitimate son Oddantonio, hated for his “inordinate lust” and excessive fiscal system practiced during his seventeen months in power.
Federico took care of the imperative political issues and began a reorganization of the state, which included a restructuring of the city according to a modern, comfortable, efficient and beautiful conception. All his efforts, in the nearly four decades of government, were aimed at this purpose that thanks to his extraordinary gifts, combined with a considerable fortune, came within a whisker from being fully achieved.
At his court, Piero della Francesca wrote on the science of perspective, Francesco di Giorgio Martini wrote his Treatise on Architecture (finishing the renovation of the Palazzo Ducale started by Luciano Laurana) and Raffaello’s father, Giovanni Santi, wrote his poetic account of the principal artists of the period. The brilliant court of Federico, through the descriptions of Baldassare Castiglione in The Courtier, introduced the characters of the so-called “gentleman” in Europe, which remained fully in vogue until the XX century.