Best Castles in Tuscany

Castle of Brolio - best castles in Tuscany

If you love medieval and fairy atmospheres, you’ll definitely enjoy visiting Italian castles! This Country is rich in elegant mansions, noble palaces, medieval fortresses, and ancient country retreats that are worth a visit. If you are planning a trip to Tuscany, make sure you add at least one of these castles to your itinerary!

9 Castles to visit in Tuscany

1. Castle of Sammezzano

Inside a 190-hectare park located close to a nice village 30 Km away from Florence, you’ll see a remarkable building that catches the visitor’s eye thanks to its eclectic architectural style and its decorations. It was built by Ferdinando Panciatichi Ximenes d’Aragona in the 30s of the XIX century as a restoration project involving an old family farm. He imagined a castle built in Eastern style, which was very trendy at that time, and he took inspiration from some international masterpieces like the Alhambra in Grenada and the Taj Mahal in India.

The rooms are sumptuous and colorful and the park has many exotic plants like palms, yuccas, and sequoias. To embellish the large park, he also wanted to add some Moorish-style pieces of architecture like a bridge and many fountains. This palace was aimed to become a luxury hotel in the 90s of the XX century, but the project was abandoned due to some financial issues. The castle is now abandoned and closed to the public, despite the local community and an association of volunteers is trying to raise the awareness of local authorities in order to restore and reopen it.

Where: via Giuseppe Garibaldi 6, Leccio (Florence)

When: XIX century

Style: Moorish Revival

Open for visit: no

Website: http://www.sammezzano.org/

2. Malaspina Castle

This recently restored castle is located in the Lunigiana area (the hilly and mountain area connecting Liguria and Tuscany) and it overlooks the town of Massa Carrara. It is very ancient and the first fortress already existed in the XII century, even though its best period was the XV century when it was inhabited by Marquis Malaspina.

The castle was turned into a prison at the end of the XIX century and it kept this function until the end of World War II. Today, you can visit a small museum telling the story of the castle only upon request and joining a guided tour. That’s because it is now the private property of the Gherardesca family that also opened a B&B inside, to offer the visitors a full immersion in history.

Tip: plan a whole weekend to explore the Lunigiana area and visit the nice towns of Pontremoli (an important stop of the via Francigena), Aulla (with is ancient Abbey), and Fivizzano (with its picturesque Old Town reminding Florence).

Where: via Papiriana 2, Fosdinovo (Massa Carrara)

When: XII century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes (only on request)

Website: http://www.castellodifosdinovo.it/en

3. Castle of Brolio

This castle belongs to the Ricasoli family and its story begins in the XI century involving many battles, fights, and destructions culminating in the bombings during World War II. The castle was rebuilt and restored each time and you can still see the signs of the different eras in its architectural features. One of the main attractions of this place is the beautiful hilly landscape around, largely composed of farmland belonging to the Ricasoli family.

The farm mainly produces wine (the prized Chianti wine, typical of this area) and olive oil. Inside the castle, you can see the Ricasoli collection, which is a collection of historical objects telling the story of the castle and the family from the Middle Ages to today. The castle is also part of the farm and you can take part in a wine tour and enjoy some tastings of the local products. There is also a restaurant offering many typical Tuscan dishes.

Tip: a weekend in the Tuscan countryside is always a good idea and you cannot miss one or more wine tours taking you to discover the best vineyards and wineries of this Region. To learn more about local wine-making, visit also the Wine Museum in Greve di Chianti!

Where: Località Madonna a Brolio, Gaiole in Chianti (Siena)

When: XI century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: yes

Website: https://ricasoli.com/en/

4. Boccale Castle

This imposing and majestic castle is located on a cliff close to the coastal town of Livorno. It is not open for visit since it’s private property (there are 11 apartments inside) but you should definitely go there to take some pictures of the waves crashing against the rocks below.

The best time of the day to admire the landscape is sunset when both the rocks and the castle turn reddish. Locals often go down the cliffs where there are some natural bathing pools filled with calm water. The first fortress was built there in the XVI century as a defensive tower aiming at spotting the pirates’ ships at sea.

Tuscany was often the prey of the Saracen pirates and you can see many old watchtowers along the coast. The castle itself was only built at the end of the XIX century, but its architectural style makes it look older.

Tip: if you are planning a weekend in the Tuscan countryside, save some time for a 1day trip to the nice town of Livorno to take some pictures of the coast too!

Where: Pirates’ Cove, Livorno

When: XIX century

Style: Neo-gothic

Open for visit: no

5. Castle of Montalto

What’s commonly referred to as “castle” is actually a perfectly preserved medieval village located in the hills and surrounded by vineyards and farmland. Some of the old houses have been restored and turned into holiday homes for rent to enjoy a peaceful holiday in the countryside.

The main chapel of the village is often used for marriages, as well as the main rooms of the noble palace that are used for banquets and special events. The castle is home to a farm producing several typical products and owning about 300 hectares of the surrounding lands.

Tip: if you love medieval atmospheres, take some time to explore the ancient towns and villages of this area, like Pienza, Montepulciano or Montalcino.

Where: Strada Comunale di Montalto 16, Castelnuovo Berardenga (Siena)

When: XIII century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: yes

Website: https://www.montaltointoscana.com/en/index.html

6. Banfi Castle

Best Italian Castles Castello-Banfi

Located in a beautiful natural environment, Banfi Castle is really ancient: some Etruscan remains were discovered in its basement! This building became the private property of the Mariani family in 1983 and it was restored and brought back to its original Renaissance style. It was then turned into a flourishing wine estate that is still very popular in Tuscany.

Like most Tuscan farms, Banfi Castle arranges several wine tours and tastings to let visitors discover its locally grown products.  The most particular product you can find here is the Etruscan balsamic dressing, which is obtained with a special method learned from the ancient Etruscan people.

Another product of excellence is the famous wine named Brunello di Montalcino, which is one of the most prized Tuscan products. Banfi Castle is also often used for marriages and special events, thanks to its elegant look and its charming location. Another attraction you should visit here is the Glass Museum: it tells the story of the glass processing from ancient times to today, showing the different techniques that can be used.

Tip: if you are planning a weekend in the beautiful Orcia Valley, take some time to visit this castle and taste some local products, then head to the closest picturesque villages like Borgo Vignoni, Bagni San Filippo or Monticchiello.

Where: Castello di Poggio alle Mura, Montalcino (Siena)

When: XIV century

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: yes

Website: https://castellobanfiilborgo.com/it

7. Montegufoni Castle

In the Chianti hills, there’s another small village that is definitely worth a visit: Montespertoli, located about 30Km away from Florence. Here you can find the Montegufoni Castle, which is the perfect farm to enjoy a quiet stay in the countryside while being close to Florence, Siena, and Pisa.

The property was divided into 39 luxurious apartments for rent, which offer a great view of the surrounding farmland. Like other similar properties, this mansion is also a popular location for marriages and it also has an internal restaurant.

Tip: enjoy a few days in the Chianti countryside and rent a car to daily go sightseeing in Florence, Siena, Pisa, San Gimignano, and Volterra, while going back to a peaceful and natural environment in the evening.

Where: via Montegufoni 18, Montespertoli (Florence)

When: XVII century

Style: Gothic/Renaissance

Open for visit: yes

Website: http://www.montegufoni.it/en/castle_tuscany.php

8. Castle of Poppi (Castle of Count Guidi)

If you want to take some of the most beautiful pictures of the Tuscan countryside, go to Poppi: this medieval village perched upon a hill is still surrounded by its ancient walls and dominated by a perfectly preserved castle.

Nobody lived in this castle for ages and its function varied throughout the centuries from a fortress to a theater, to military headquarters to a library, and so on. Nowadays, it is still possible to visit the stables, the servants’ quarters, the ballroom, the dungeons, the chapel, and the Rilliana library, housing more than 25.000 ancient volumes.

The castle belonged to the Guidi family and its look might seem you familiar: the tower of the castle was built by Arnolfo di Cambio that used it as the prototype to design the tower of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence!

The Counts Guidi was used to hosting some important guests and Dante himself spent some time there and composed the canto XXIII of his Inferno during his stay. If you are brave enough, search for the ghost of Countess Matelda, who used to kill her lovers and was then buried alive in the tower.

Where: Piazza della Repubblica, Poppi (Arezzo)

When: XIII century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: yes

9. Castle of Vincigliata

This castle is located close to Fiesole, and elegant and scenic town that’s really worth a detour during your trip to Tuscany. The first written records of its existence date back to 1031 and it is rich in history and folklore. Later on, this fortress was almost entirely destroyed and it was abandoned until the 40s of the XIX century.

At that time, an English nobleman named Lord John Temple Leader was so struck by the legend linked to this castle that he decided to restore it and to bring it back to its ancient splendor. The legend is about a tragic love story and has a young lady named Bianca as the main character. Bianca was the daughter of Giovanni Usimbardi, who was the lord of the manor. She was in love with the son of her father’s worst enemy, but when the young man saved his life during a battle, he agreed on their marriage as a sign of gratitude. On the morning of her wedding,

Bianca climbed to the top of the tower to watch the arrival of her groom, but while he was riding towards the castle, his own brother attacked and killed him, because he did not want him to be part of an enemy family. Bianca witnessed the whole scene from the tower and she died of a heart attack right there. From that moment, it is said that her ghost lingers there and protects the unhappy lovers visiting the castle.

Tip: if you want to discover some other Tuscan legends, head to the near village of Monteriggioni, where you’ll find another haunted castle!

Where: via Vincigliata 21, Vincigliata (Fiesole)

When: XI century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: yes

Website: http://castellodivincigliata.it/en/

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