Historical period: Renaissance
The Church and Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie is situated in a fascinating location, just a couple of km out of town, amongst the hills. It can be easily reached in a few minutes by car or with public means of transportation. They were built as a votive offering by Giovanni della Rovere and his wife Giovanna da Montefeltro after the birth of their longed-for male heir, Francesco Maria, in 1490.
The construction works of the Convent started in 1491 according to a project by Baccio Pontelli. The monumental complex was designed to host the Franciscan friars and the Della Rovere family tomb. It was completed by Vittoria della Rovere, the last heir of the Rovere dynasty.
The original design of the complex, which was repeatedly changed also in terms of size, included two large cloisters, whereas the current ones retain lunettes frescoed with images from Saint Francis’ life and miracles.
The Church was completed in 1684 thanks to the donations from Vittoria Della Rovere, who was married to Ferdinando II de Medici, when the Dukedom of Urbino returned to the Church because of the extinction of the Rovere family. The Medici’s coat of arms on the façade, above the portal, is a memory of the event.
The interior space is simple and essential. Behind the altar, visitors will appreciate one of the most important works of art of the local territory: "Madonna con Santi" (Virgin with Saints) by Perugino. The painting, which dates back to 1490, represents the Virgin with the Infant Jesus accompanied by six saints. Until 1917 the Church hosted Piero della Francesca’s “Madonna di Senigallia”, which was transferred to Urbino in the turbulent years of the First World War.
Giovanni Della Rovere was buried in 1501 in the sacristy, where a finely-made basin from the 15th century is found.
Today, a wing of the convent hosts Museo di Storia della Mezzadria Sergio Anselmi (Sergio Anselmi Museum of Sharecropping), rich in valuable objects and documents.