Giovanna da Montefeltro, the patron of Raffaello Sanzio

The gloomy faces lit by a dim light and the halo of fear paraded before his wide eyes. All those people on the run were staring at her for a brief moment, they recognized her, some hinted at her with a slight salute, but nobody did anything to put her in trouble, thus preventing Cesare Borgia’s soldiers from seeing her. What Valentino was putting in place in his Lordship was a real massacre, an action that sooner or later would have found a way to avenge. Now, however, the only thing that mattered was to save, jump on a horse and flee far, to Florence and then Genoa, to make sure that his son Francesco Maria was safe. He had always known in those years of quiet living in Senigallia, between the defensive walls of the Rocca Rocca and the palace built by her husband in Via Mastai (where the Della Rovere symbol is still visible as evidence of their presence in the past) that the locals loved her, admired her, considered her a of them though originally from Urbino, but only now, in that moment of terror, death and screams in which it had suddenly fallen, their unexpected behavior of support and fraternal made her feel truly at home.

Giovanna Feltria was born in one of the most florid and lively courts of the Italian Renaissance, daughter of the great Federico da Montefeltro. Grown up receiving an education among the best in the world, discreet – there is no official portrait of her – yet witty and determined like her father, at only eleven years she was engaged to a man of whom nothing knew, as well as she was unknown – and probably this remained forever – that feeling for us today so common called love. Later he will try it with passion for the six children to whom he gave birth, but he who in 1478 became her husband, in a springtime Roman morning that presaged a glorious future, in fact remained for her almost a stranger. Formal relationships and a lukewarm affection linked the couple in moments when he was sharing days, events, parties, problems and joys, but Giovanni Della Rovere had been appointed by his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV, Duke of Sora and Arce, Lord of Senigallia , papal vicar of Mondavio and even prefect of Rome. It was logical, albeit sad, that for her, the prefect , there was very little time left between the wars, compromises and land management.

So it was that Giovanna, indomitable and cheerful, with a strong sense of aesthetics and a particular sensitivity for the arts, filled her court with artists who were then semi-unknown or at most appreciated locally, but one day, thanks to her charitable hand , would have become the pillars of Renaissance painting. To Giovanni Santi, father of Raphael, the Della Rovere commissioned several works, as did Perugino. When in the second half of the fifteenth century Piero della Francesca created the Madonna of Senigallia, today exposed to the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, the common opinion – although never certified – was that the two spouses represented behind the Virgin were Giovanni Della Rovere and Giovanna Feltria. However, the biggest mystery revolves around La Mutaby Raffaello Sanzio (also kept at the Galleria delle Marche), whose identity is still unknown: however, many scholars agree in the hypothesis that it may be just his patron Giovanna, or at most Mary, her daughter her. He was still a boy who messed with the colors Raphael when Giovanna Da Montefeltro, recognizing in him a precocious and extremely promising talent, wrote in his own hand a letter to the influential politician Pier Soderini to ensure that the young man was welcomed in the Florence of the Medici , just in the period when Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were both working on some frescoes for the decoration of Palazzo Vecchio. It was there that he met the great masters of art, so it is no exaggeration to say that without the