Just back from a three-day trip to Urbino (its Duomo at left), and beyond.
Urbino is a lovely Umbrian-like medieval town but in the "Le Marche" region north of Umbria. We rented a car at the local joint (Georgi's) and drove up there in about 3 (?) hours, passing by Gubbio and the agriturismo "Castello di Petroia" where we stayed in 1995 (where the expressionless Romanian man we dubbed "Igor" met us at the gate).
After a day and a half, one laughably bad dinner, one very good one, and a memorable visit to the Palazzo Ducale, I proposed an unplanned trip down the Adriatic Coast to another Le Marche town I read about online that neither of us had ever heard of, Ascoli Piceno. For the record, Lonely Planet describes this town thusly: the love child of ancient Rome and a small Marchigiani village, heavy on the history and food. Weary legs will appreciate its lack of hills and all travellers will appreciate its historical riches, excellent pinacoteca, one of Italy's unsung perfect piazzas... Uh, no. Well, maybe, but we arrived to a shabby-looking, empty centro and a pelting rainstorm. The unsung perfect piazza was filled with little tent-things...they looked like local voting booths. We looked at each other and said "Back to Umbria", and made our way up the road (WAY up the road) to Norcia, and then to Spoleto. Beautiful drive, a little scary with bursts of rain, and a brief hailstorm. Found a really nice hotel, the Clitunno, and collapsed. And returned today, Assumption Day (Ferragosto) to Pieve. Preparations for the Palio are in full swing. In a couple of hours, the Lancio della Sfida takes place. That's a ceremony where the representatives of each terzieri insult each other in a courtly manner to get their mojo going for the big archery contest next week.