In the valley rich in oak trees, Urbania - once called Casteldurante of the Duchy of Urbino - is surrounded by the river Metauro. Francesco Maria II della Rovere, the duke who succeeded the Montefeltros, set up his permanent residence in Urbania due to its tranquillity and magic. When he died here the Duchy ended.
The present name of the town dates back to 1636 in honour of Pope Urban VIII. Previously it was called Castel delle Ripe when the Ghibellines from Urbino destroyed it in 1277. Then Guillaume Durante from Provence had it rebuilt in 1284 and the name became Casteldurante.
It was under this name that the town became known throughout Europe for its pottery in the 16th century when, together with Urbino, Pesaro and other towns in the Metauro Valley, pottery production reached its highest level thanks to "raphaelism" and the example of the humanist at the ducal court. In this period there were over 40kilns working in the town and 150 potters producing exquisite vases and plates, rich in colour and decoration.
The Montefeltro and Della Rovere dukes called Casteldurante the "place of delights" and had a special road built that made it possible to reach Urbania from Urbino in three hours. It was the presence of the dukes, the pottery production and then the See of the Bishops that enriched the town with important monuments.
A visit to the Ducal Palace is a must. This fascinating castle on the river has an important library, a collection of engravings and the Mercatore globes. The Church of the Dead has an unusual collection of mummies, dating back to the 17th century which have become mummified due to a particular mould. Then there is the Diocesan Museum with its collection of rare ceramics and the "Barco", the dukes' hunting lodge, connected to the Ducal Palace by river. Also not to be forgotten are the numerous churches in the town, rich in works of art, that can be reached by a pleasant walk through twisting alleys, narrow streets, small squares and bridges across the Metauro river.
Today Urbania is a thriving town which has developed according to the typical "Marchigiano" model with clothing industries that are well known on the international marker. The manufacturing of the jeans has largely replaced agriculture and the old cottage industries. There is an active Institute of Italian for foreigners, numerous associations and schools and various exhibitions are held throughout the year. Tourism is on the increase, both due to the foreigners who attend the Centro Studi Italiani and the weekly pottery-holiday courses run during the summer.
Among typical local produce you can find can be purchased directly from the factory, truffles - an extremely rare delicacy - wrought iron, an ostrich farm and, of course the beautiful Durantina pottery.
Local cuisine is tasty and homelike and has been influenced by the nearby regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Romagna. You can find various roasted meats, "porchettina" of snails and lamb together with truffles and mushrooms, "cresce di Pasqua" (a special easter cake), "polenta" and "crostoli sfogliati" which are a kind of pancake made with flour, eggs and lard. A special sweet is called "bostrengo".
Among the local traditions, here are two of the most corious: first, "the onions", an antique and popular barometer which is incredibly exact! Slices of onions are prepared with salt and left outside on the night of 24-25 January (St. Paul of signs) and the weather is forecast for the rest of the year depending on their colour the following morning. Then there is the "punta e cul", a popular game played at Easter with hard boiled eggs. The winner is the person who can manage to keep his own egg intact while banging it against those of his opponents. He then takes home all the broken eggs!
The summer season is rich in exhibitions and concerts - another reason for visiting the ancient Casteldurante.

(For information: Tourist office, tel. 0722/318395:Pro loco, tel. 0722/317211)