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Perched in the foothills of the Apennines, the twin towers of its Ducal Palace piercing the sky, Urbino is a striking monument to another era. The city came to prominence under Duke Federico da Montefeltro, a man who embodied the virtues of the active and contemplative life that were characteristic of the Renaissance. His city, however, guards its secrets well. A superficial visit may disclose some of its beauty and antiquity, but not its significance. It is the purpose of this book to showcase Urbino's beauty and to explain its historical and cultural importance. June Osborne traces the history of the city back to its Roman origins and goes on to paint a colorful panorama of Renaissance Italy, detailing the rivalries, alliances, and treacheries between dukes, princes, emperors, and popes that were fought out during this most fruitful period of scholarship and creative output. She explains how Urbino emerged from political turmoil to become the wealthiest and most illustrious court in Europe, a magnet for artists and writers such as Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, and Torquato Tasso, and the acknowledged centre of Renaissance ideals as expounded in Baldassare Castiglione's "The Book of the Courier. With Newly commissioned photographs by Joe Cornish and a Foreword by Sir John Mortimer, this is the first book solely on Urbino to be published in English, making it essential reading for anyone with an interest in Italian history or art.