Most people visiting the beautiful Italian Renaissance city of Urbino are attracted by the art and architecture. I'm a duck hunter. I was attracted by that factory in the valley below the town's ancient walls. The sign said "Benelli."
So while my wife was thrilled to have a seat at a baroque musical recital, I was thrilled to have a seat in an official vehicle escorting me down the hill for a private tour of a plant producing some of the world's most famous auto-loading shotguns. I knew just what to expect: 10th-generation Italian craftsman wearing aprons and visors lovingly hand-crafting sporting arms using traditional techniques passed down by the masters, milling barrels, scrolling receivers, polishing walnut stocks - the Geapettas of the firearms set. I could almost smell the gun oil and wood polish.
What I found was something else entirely. But just as fascinating.
The setting for the Benelli factory is worth the trip, even for non-hunters. The hilltop town of Urbino is one of Italy's most beautiful and well-preserved renaissance treasures. It is located in the central province of Le Marche, which has a rich and ancient hunting tradition s still very alive today - and one reason the manufacturer of fine shotguns is located there.