This splendid palace was built in the 16th Century by Felice Tiranni, son of Pietro. It was Pietro to whom the young
Francesco Maria I, heir to the Duchy of Urbino, was entrusted when the Montefeltro territory was invaded.
Felice was born around 1508. He became secretary to the
Duke of Urbino but after the death of his wife, with whom he had two children, he began a new career in the Church and rose to become Bishop of Urbino.
His life in Urbino brought him into contact with the great artists who were active in the Court at that time and who, together with members of the Duke's family, he entertained
at Cagli. His son died only a few years after his own death, mortally wounded by a servant, and left his property, under his will of 1590, to the Holy House of Loreto subject to the
obligation to the keep the palace at the service of the dukes.
In 1642, after the incorporation of the Duchy of Urbino into the Papal States, the palace was sold to the Felici family,
then passed to the Castracane family in 1642, in whose possession it remained until this century.
The facade has a splendid coffered cornice. The rusticated portal is finely carved with masks on the inner edge of its arch. The keystone bears the crest of the Tiranni family
and over it, in the tympanum, the emblem of the Holy House of Loreto.
The wide entrance hall with a vaulted ceiling, lunettes, and corbels decorated with anthropomorphic and animal figures,
leads towards the double loggia. The well-head in the centre of the stone courtyard is decorated with Montefeltro symbols and, to the rear, the Castracane crest.
The monumental stone portal on the first floor is notable for its stucco-work by Brandani into which the Castracane crest was later added. It leads to the ceremonial hall with
its vast pavilion vaulted ceiling.
Over the monumental stone fireplace, the intricate stucco work of 1571 holds Brandani's rendering of Vulcan's Forge.
On either side are a man and a woman and below them two putti with horns of plenty. The coping above it is decorated with heraldic symbols (eagles, fruit, oak twigs) which also
appear around the stone mantlepiece built by Elpidio Finale and dated 1600.
Brandani is also responsible for the decoration of the entire vaulting throughout the piano nobile
, which he carried out in 1555. The elaborate stucco decoration presents historical scenes, as in the long bas relief of The Triumph of the Condottieri. There are also cameos with classical
references depicting the Four Seasons, mythological scenes and complicated allegories, such as the central oval where winged Victory appears, crowned with a wreath of oak
leaves and three stars (the heraldic symbols of the Tiranni family).
The letters "F E V" which appear in the two portals may
stand for "Felice Episcopo (Bishop) Urbino". Brandani is also responsible for the decoration of the fireplace in the adjoining room where the figures on either side of the oval
painting are of youths. All of the Neoclassical decorations of the ceilings on the piano nobile date from the second half of the 18th Century.
The private chapel, with its portal supported by ionic columns, stands to one side of the entrance to the ceremonial hall. The original majolica pavement, made up of
420 polychrome tiles, has been on display at the Musιes Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire di Bruxelles since 1901.
The Palace will soon be the home of the city and diocesan
museums and will include Giovanni Santi's fresco of Saint Sebastian, 57 designs by Canova and 22 watercolours by Federico Galli of Bibbiena, in addition to numerous works by
Ridolfi, Cialdieri, Alberti of Ferrara, Battaglini of Imola, Schaychis and Lapis.
The artefacts on display will include 13th Century pastoral
scenes on ivory and fine 19th Century tables by Francesco Pucci.
text by Alberto Mazzacchera