Urbino – the gardens of the Ducal Palace


Built close to the cathedral, the palace was the most ambitious project promoted by the duke Federico da Montefeltro, a cultivated and refined lord. The architectural complex is one of the most interesting and successful of the whole Italian Renaissance. Famous is the way it was defined by Baldassarre Castiglione, one of the most important intellectuals of that time: It did not look like a palace, he wrote, but rather like a city in the shape of a palace.

It hosts a roof garden, placed between the duke’s and the duchess’apartments, which is thought to have been created by Francesco di Giorgio, an architect from Siena who replaced Francesco Laurana in 1474. It is a trapezoidal court and is surrounded by a wall, whose wide windows face the Colle delle Vigne (Vineyards Hill). The surface of the garden is divided into squares by wide alleys paved with large square stones. In the centre there is a stone fountain in the shape of a jar, placed upon three steps surrounding it. The central fountain was completed in the XVI century with a sundial whose hour lines lie beneath the water level, and were designed taking care of the refraction.

In the XIX century the garden was abandoned and slowly disappeared. Its restoration took place in the eighties of last century, within a recovery plan which affected the whole Palace. During the works, the paths, the raised stone flowerbeds and the central fountain were reinstated; roses were planted in the flowerbeds.

Professor Giovanna Giomaro took care of enlarging the botanic supply: the green grass basis of each flowerbed was decorated with small jasmine plants and groups of such rare varieties of roses, not re-flowering but bearing a great historical charm, as “Scabrosa”, “Variegata di Bologna”, “Rose de Pientres”, “Chapeau de Napoleon”, “Baron Girod de l’Ain”, “Queen of Bourbons”. Re-flowering and creeping varieties were placed in such a way as to hide the light spots for the rooms below; the ancient roses grow by single logs, sited according to their variety, the blossoming time and the chromatic effect. 


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