If you're exploring the Marche region of Italy and need to travel between the Renaissance towns of Ascoli Piceno, on the region's southern edge, and the walled city of Urbino to the north, there are a few ways to make the trip. A combination of trains and buses can get you there. But for either getting their quickly or stopping for sightseeing along the 132-mile (212 km) journey, a rental car makes the most sense.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 2.25-3.5 hrs
At 2 hours, 15 minutes, the fastest driving route from Ascoli Piceno to Urbino is via the Adriatic Coast. From Ascoli, follow the Raccordo Acoli Piceno - Porta di Ascoli 18 miles (29 km) east to the coast. Note that this 4-lane divided highway is also known as the Superstrada Ascoli - Mare and the RA11. Pick up the A14/Autostrada Adriatica (also signposted E55) heading north towards Bologna. Stay on the A14 for 86 miles (138 km) to the exit for Fano. Pick up the SS73bis heading west in the direction of Urbino. Stay on the SS73bis for 29 miles (43 km) as it winds its way up to Urbino.
For a slower, more scenic drive, you can head west from Ascoli and travel through the Parco Nazionale dei Monti Sibillini, exploring the Umbrian towns of Norcia, Spoleto, Foligno and Gubbio along the way. This route takes 3 hours, 30 minutes, not including any stops you might make.
Regardless of the route you choose, if your budget allows, hiring a private transfer to make the trip means you can sit back and enjoy the ride and let someone else do the driving.
By Train & Bus
Duration: 4.5-5.5 hrs
Because there is no train station in Urbino, travel on public transportation from Ascoli Piceno involves taking two trains, then a bus to Urbino. From Ascoli Piceno, take one of several daily Trenitalia Regionale trains to Ancona. There's at least one train per hour from Ancona to Pesaro, with travel times of 27 to 58 minutes, depending on the train you choose – faster trains cost more. From Pesaro Stazione (train station), the number 46 Adriabus coach runs to Urbino every 30 to 60 minutes, with 50-minutes' travel time.
From Urbino, consider extending your tour of Italy to include a food and wine tour of Bologna, Florence, and Rome, or get adventurous with a biking itinerary that includes Venice, the Dolomites, Slovenia and Croatia.