Urbino (Italian: [urˈbiːno]; About this sound listen (help·info)) is a walled city in the Marche region of Italy, south-west of Pesaro, a World Heritage Site notable for a remarkable historical legacy of independent Renaissance culture, especially under the patronage of Federico da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino from 1444 to 1482. The town, nestled on a high sloping hillside, retains much of its picturesque medieval aspect, an illusion only slightly broken by the large car parks below the town. It hosts the University of Urbino, founded in 1506, and is the seat of the Archbishop of Urbino. Its best-known architectural piece is the Palazzo Ducale, rebuilt by Luciano Laurana.
The modest Roman town of Urbinum Mataurense (“the little city on the river Mataurus”) became an important strategic stronghold in the Gothic Wars of the 6th century, captured in 538 from the Ostrogoths by the Byzantine general Belisarius, and frequently mentioned by the historian Procopius.
Though Pepin the Short (King of the Franks) presented Urbino to the Papacy in 754–56, independent traditions were expressed in its commune, until, around 1200, it came into the possession of the House of Montefeltro. Although these noblemen had no direct authority over the commune, they could pressure it to elect them to the position of podestà, a title that Bonconte di Montefeltro managed to obtain in 1213, with the result that Urbino’s population rebelled and formed an alliance with the independent commune of Rimini (1228), finally regaining control of the town in 1234. Eventually, though, the Montefeltro noblemen took control once more, and held it until 1508. In the struggles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, when factions supported either the Papacy or the Holy Roman Empire respectively, the 13th and 14th century Montefeltro lords of Urbino were leaders of the Ghibellines of the Marche and in the Romagna region.