Day 31 – Urbino

Today the streets are full of caravans and noisemakers from the various contrade who ride through the streets voicing their hopes for victory in the Aquilone festival.

I visit the Oratorio of San Giuseppe, right down the street from my lodging. I was not prepared for the lavishly decorated chapel. The Confraternity included members of the Albani family, whose wealth added to the splendor of the chapel dedicated to St. Joseph.

The kinda creepy costumes of the confraternity members. Some of them were dedicated to spending last hours with prisoners condemned to death. Others helped poor widows and children.

The site also contains a grotto containing what’s said to be the oldest life-sized stucco nativity scene in the world.

Out in the courtyard I came across this very modern (2023) life-sized sculpture of a wounded warrior. Very refreshing to find something relevant and interesting from more than an historic perspective.

Down the street is the Oratorio of San Giovanni with its frescoes painted by the Salimbeni brothers, Lorenzo and Jacopo in the early 1400s. The colors are still clear and vibrant after many centuries.

I spent a good long time looking at the different frescoes, which cover the walls of the large room and tell the story of John the Baptist. A couple of scenes caught me attention: this man removing his tights to get baptized in the river. Did the kids really wrap their heads with leaves?

The faces in this group of onlookers on one side of the crucifixion are individualized, even those of the horses. This site truly deserves its place as one of Urbino’s most beautiful artistic treasures.

I head down to the Piazza della Repubblica for some lunch.

And down some more.

I finally try Urbino’s traditional crescia, crispy and delicious with a choice of all kinds of fillings. I chose the cheese and veggie version and sat down on a bench in the Piazza to enjoy it. Unfortunately a very aggressive bee got the scent and would not give up. I had to move across to the other side of the Piazza to lose the pest.

After so many Madonnas and crosses, I thought it might be interesting to see the synagogue. Identified on the tourist map, finding it took me to a part of town I had not yet visited. But when I arrived at the address, I could see no sign of the place. It’s as if it did not exist. I wondered whether there were not enough Jews in Urbino for a quorum. Later I found a website that shows the interior, explaining that the synagogue is not identified “in order to avoid persecution.”

I continue walking around Urbino in areas I had not yet covered. I am slightly beyond 10,000 steps a day now, and the hills have got to count for something too. I come across an old elementary school with separate entrances for boys and girls. I wonder if that’s still the case today. Unlikely.

I take a scenic walk offering panoramic views. Unfortunately, the botanic garden is closed on Sundays. I use my iNaturalist app to identify a few plants. It seems that I am now addicted to plant identification after my time in Val Taleggio.

Interesting that despite the Italian love of beauty, they do nothing to hide the horrible cell towers that pop up everywhere.

When I go to pay for a drink at a bar on the Piazza della Repubblica, I see an amazing array of cigarette packages. How can there be so many different types? As I wait to pay, a young man buys five packages for over 25 Euro. We have done something very right by weakening the tobacco industry in the States. Nothing seems to work here.

Celebration for the Aquilone Festival ends in a dinner with live music. This kind of community event must go far to keep the social fabric strong.

Tomorrow I am off to Fabriano and a new experience with Studio Pensierini.

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