The Ducal Palace, the residence of the Dukes of Montefeltro, dominates the hill town, creating a mixture of splendour and awe to the first time visitor, just as Duke Federico had originally intended. The palace now houses the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche with a vast collection of masterpieces including works by such artists as Piero della Francesca, Raphael and the Flemish painter Justus of Ghent.
A number of ancient lay brotherhoods, known as confraternities, have left fascinating legacy throughout the city. It was they who were responsible for the construction of a number of magnificent oratories that still survive today, including the Oratory San Giovanni Battista, the Oratory of the Confraternita di San Giuseppe and the oratory of Santa Croce.
You can also find traces of Raphael's early life in Urbino. The painter's birthplace, in Via Raffaello, stands a short distance away from the main piazza, where you can see the rooms where the artist painted his first works.
Remains of the original Roman town of Fano are clearly visible as you walk around the city. The imposing Arch of Augustus still marks the main entrance to the city. Passing through it, you'll find within its walls many more remains of the city's Roman past and its period under the rule of the Malatesta family.
Pesaro, the Roman town of Pisaurum, also has plenty of interest, with a wealth of medieval and Renaissance buildings, its famous mosaics in the cathedral, its majolica ware and a major international event, the Rossini Opera Festival.
Inland, we find Fermignano, with its Torre delle Milizie and Roman bridge. The city is also famous for the curious "Palio della Rana" (frog race) which takes place each April.
Continuing on up the Metauro Valley we reach the museum town of Urbania, the ancient Castel Durante, with a 13th Century urban layout as appropriate to modern needs as ever, in the form of a grid-like series of straight streets. The library - one of the most important in the region - houses the famous 16th Century Mercatore Globes as well as a fine collection of designs, prints, manuscripts, maps, and works by Barocci, Durer and Flemish artists. The extraordinary Chiesa dei Morti is also particularly worth visiting with its unusual display of mummies - corpses buried in a nearby graveyard and perfectly preserved by a particular form of mould.
From the Metauro we cross over to the Cesano Valley, where at Pergola we find the famous Gilded Bronzes, a unique group of equestrian statues dating from the Roman period which were unearthed relatively recently. The group are probably members of a family, comprising two cloaked and veiled female figures and two cavaliers of high military standing on richly decorated horses.
Finally, returning from Pergola towards the coast, we recommend a visit to Mondolfo. This town, set in gently rolling countryside, has two 14th-15th century churches which are worthy of a visit - Sant'Agostino and San Sebastiano.
A short distance away stands Mondavio, once the capital of this area and ruled as a papal vicariate. The castle here, designed and built by Francesco di Giorgio Martini in 1482 to a commission by Giovanni della Rovere, is one of the most original examples of military architecture of all time. Today it houses a museum depicting historical scenes.