Centro Risorse Territoriale di Pesaro e Urbino

Pesaro, a 1769 Guide

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This city was the most delightful part of the duchy of Urbino: Julius II dismembered this little territory from his conquests in Romania, to make a fief of it for his family; it was, at that time, ten leagues in lenght and five in breadth, of which the Adriatic was the base. By the extinction of Julius's family (a), this duchy in 1630 devolved again to the holy see. In that brilliant age, which the Italians distinguish by the name of the cinque cento , the court of Urbino was one of the principal ornaments of Italy. A genius, an artist, a gentleman, was sure of being welcome every where, after the happiness of having pleased a court, whose esteem was the standard of reputation in every kind. Count Balthazar Castiglione's Cortigiano (b) , i.e. courtier, gives us the code of its gallantry at that time. A delicate taste for arts and sciences, a well digested knowledge of the world in general, and of both sexes, chearfulness, decent jocularity, and all the graces arising from refined urbanity, constituted the characteristic of that shining court, which used to spend the winter at Pezaro, in elegant palaces, of which little more than melancholy remains are now to be seen.

This city appeared to me almost as large as Rimini, but better built, and more populous; it had a bad character in ancient times, from the malignance of its air in summer. Catullus used to call it moribundam sedem ; but its present inhabitants say, that the draining of the neighbouring marshes has long since removed that distemperature. Its figs keep up their former reputation; they are certainly the best in this part of Italy.

The churches in Pezaro have some pieces by Paul Veronese and Guido, with several by Barrocci, who was contemporary with the former, prior to the latter, and inferior to neither in colouring and graces. Guido has not a single grace which is not to be found again in Barrocci's Annunciation in the cathedral of Pezaro, and in his Circumcision , the chief ornament of another church in the same city. The calling of St. Peter and St. Andrew, in a very pretty small church, adds the force of expression and the brilliancy of execution to all the graces the subject would admit, and these heightened by tints which time seems to renew and improve. We were told that this painter used to take his angels and virgins from a brother and sister, who, if art has not added to nature, were celestial beauties indeed.

I spent an evening here at the coffee-house, where the company consisted of elderly nobles of this country, talking about foreign news; the alliance lately struck up between France and Austria was a long topic for their political talents. A very old commander of an order, next to whom I happened to sit, and who had quietly listened to the whole, asked me whether I had ever seen any thing of France; and on my answering in the affirmative, whether Quebec was not near Bordeaux, as he imagined? without trying whether he was in jest or earnest: I replied, that Quebec had lain out of my way, but since he imagined it to be in France it certainly must.

The antiquities of Pezaro were some years ago engraved with explanations, by one of its inhabitants, and make a folio intitled Marmora Pisaurensia ; it is very well printed, and at Pezaro.

The road through Pezaro and Fano, from Rimini to Sinigaglia, is very pleasant and easy along the shore, one wheel in the sea and the other on the sand, which the water consolidates as it wets it . The shore is bordered by steep rocks, against which, in tempestuous weather, the sea beats; and it being such at our departure from Pezaro, we could not keep along the shore. On our returning into the Via Flaminia , we passed through a very unequal, fruitful, and well cultivated country; and which, in our progress, presented us with a continued variety of most delightful landscapes.

(a) La Rovere.

(b) This work, too little known in France, where Lewis XII. And Francis I. encouraged the author to go on with it, contains the most pure principles of morality and policy, enlivened with all the elegance and facetiousness of the court of Urbino.

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