Italy

Best Castles in Italy

Over the centuries, Italian Regions have been ruled by many dynasties of kings coming from different geographical areas. As a result, you can find many castles, fortresses and noble residences and mansions scattered throughout the Country and dating from the Roman period till the XIX century, when Italy became a unified State. Each castle has its own history, pieces of heritage and legends that keep charming visitors and locals.

 

38 Famous Italian Castles to visit

Valle d’Aosta

Over the centuries, this area has always been the obligatory passage to the Alps. For this reason, several military fortresses were built to protect the villages nearby and to levy tolls from foreigners. The most important example of local Medieval castle is Fénis Castle.

1. Castello di Fénis (Fénis Castle)

Castles in Italy Castello-di-Fenis

It belonged to the Challant Family until 1716, when it was abandoned and used as a barn and a stable. Towards the end of the XIX century, it was restored and it became a precious piece of heritage to be shared with the local community.

Where: Fénis – Frazione Chez Sapin 1

When: XIV century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

Liguria

This Region has many military fortresses that were built to protect the coast from the enemies coming from the sea. If you are enjoying a summer seaside holiday, don’t forget to visit some charming castles and historical places too!

2. Castello Brown (Brown Castle)

Best Castles in Italy Castello-Brown

This beautiful fortress is located in one of the most popular seaside resorts in Liguria: the village of Portofino. Thanks to its elevated position, it offers amazing views of the bay. Its lush gardens are also often used as a setting for marriages or photoshoots.

Where: Portofino (Genova)– via alla Penisola 13

When: XV century

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: Yes

3. Castello D’Albertis (Albertis’ Castle)

Italian Castles Castello-D’Albertis

It was the mansion of the Captain Enrico D’Albertis. Today, it houses the Museum of Cultures including the Captain’s private collection of artifacts, objects and works of art collected all over the world during his journeys.

Where: Genova – Corso Dogali 18

When: 1886

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

4. Castello di Rapallo (Castle of Rapallo)

Famous Castles in Italy Castello-di-Rapallo

It was built to protect the village of Rapallo from pirates. Though it was built during the XVI century, it looks exactly like a Medieval castle.

Where: Rapallo (Genova) – Lungomare Vittorio Veneto

When: XVI century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

5. Fortezza di Sarzanello (Sarzanello’s Fortress)

Best Italian Castles Fortezza-di-Sarzanello

It is located on the Via Francigena (the ancient European pilgrimage route connecting France to Rome). It was built to protect Magra Valley, which was an important gateway to Central Italy.

Where: Sarzana (La Spezia) – via Della Fortezza

When: X century

Style: Tuscan architecture

Open for visit: Yes

Piemonte

Torino was the first capital of the unified Italian State and the city where the king had its court. Today, both Torino and the surrounding countryside still show many traces of that period, which are especially represented by the elegant Savoy Residences.

6. Reggia di Venaria Reale (Royal Palace of Venaria)

Castles in Italy Piemonte-Reggia-di-Venaria-Reale

It is located in the countryside near Torino and it is part of the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It was the hunting residence of Duke Carlo Emanuele II.

Where: Venaria Reale (Torino)– Piazza Della Repubblica 4

When: 1675

Style: Baroque

Open for visit: Yes

Lombardia

Here you can find several castles in some picturesque locations, like the banks of Garda Lake or the center of one of the most modern and vibrant Italian cities.

7. Castello di Soncino (Castle of Soncino)

Best Castles in Italy Lombardia-Castello-di-Soncino

This castle has a really impressive and austere appearance, which was specially conceived by military architects wanting to build an imposing defensive fortress to protect the surrounding area.

Where: Soncino (Cremona)– via Guglielmo Marconi

When: 1475

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: Yes

8. Castello Scaligero (Scaligero Castle)

Italian Castles Castello-Scaligero

It is located at the entrance of Sirmione’s Old Town and it is one of the best-preserved Italian castles. It is surrounded by the lake on every side, which makes it look like a real tourist postcard!

Where: Sirmione (Brescia)– Piazza Castello 34

When: XIII century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

9. Castello Sforzesco (Sforza Castle)

Best Italian Castles Castello Sforzesco

In the heart of a modern city, you can find this huge gothic castle that was the residence of Duke Francesco Sforza. Today, it houses 9 museums.

Where: Milano – Piazza Castello

When: XV century

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: Yes

Veneto

This Region is not particularly famous for its castles, but you can visit a couple of well-preserved and interesting medieval buildings, located in beautiful settings that are surely worth taking a picture.

10. Castello di Marostica (Castle of Marostica)

Best Italian Castles Veneto-Castello-di-Marostica

It is composed of two different complexes (Upper and Lower Castle) enclosed by the same walls. Every two years, during the month of September, it is the location of a human chess game to commemorate an ancient legend.

Where: Marostica (Vicenza)– via Cansignorio della Scala 4

When: 1312

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

11. Castelvecchio

Castles in Italy Castelvecchio

It is the main castle built by the Scaligeri, a powerful family ruling Verona for more than a century. Today, it houses a Civic Museum dedicated to Italian and European art.

Where: Verona – Corso Castelvecchio 2

When: 1356

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

Trentino Alto Adige

Local castles have often been converted into museums or exhibition spaces. Being Trentino a mountain Region, the real protagonist remains the Alpine landscape, which provides a beautiful natural setting for ruins and ancient residences.

12. Castel Belfort (Belfort Castle)

Best Castles in Italy Castel-Belfort

A ruined castle in a beautiful natural environment. You can still wander around the ruins of the ancient walls and the crenelated tower.

Where: Spormaggiore (Trento)

When: 1311

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: No

13. Castel Firmiano (Sigmundskron Castle)

Italian Castles Castel-Firmiano-(Sigmundskron)

Today, it houses the Messner Mountain Museum, which is entirely dedicated to the relationship between men and mountains.

Where: Bolzano – via Castel Firmiano 53

When: X century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

14. Castel Tirolo (Tirol Castle)

Famous Castles in Italy Castel-Tirolo

It was the residence of the Counts of Tirol (the entire area is also named “Tirolo” and its inhabitants are called “Tirolesi”). Today, it houses the Museum of History of the Province of Bolzano.

Where: Tirolo (Bolzano)– via del Castello 24

When: 1140

Style: Romanesque

Open for visit: Yes

15. Castello del Buonconsiglio (Buonconsiglio Castle)

Best Italian Castles Castello-del-Buonconsiglio

It is the largest and best-preserved castle in Trentino and it was the former residence of the Prince-Bishops of Trento. Today, it houses a contemporary art museum.

Where: Trento – via Bernardo Clesio 5

When: 1255

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: Yes

Friuli Venezia Giulia

This Region has been part of the Hapsburg Empire for 5 centuries and it still shows many traces of that period. You can especially see them in Trieste, which looks more like a Central European city, than an Italian one. To see a beautiful example of Hapsburg residence visit

16. Castello di Miramare (Miramare Castle)

Castles in Italy Castello-di-Miramare

It was the residence of the Archduke Maximilian of Hapsburg, who fell in love with the Grignano promontory and its landscape. He especially loved the view of the sea from the Castle’s gardens.

Where: Trieste – Viale Miramare

When: 1856

Style: Neo-medieval

Open for visit: Yes

Emilia Romagna

Here you’ll find plenty of castles: from the residences of the Este family to places linked to ancient legends. They are full of pieces of heritage and works of art and they offer everything you’d expect to find in a medieval castle.

17. Castello Estense (Este Castle)

Best Castles in Italy Castello-Estense

It is the symbol of Ferrara and it is also called S. Michael’s Castle. Its 4 towers and its red bricks are an integral part of the urban scenery.

Where: Ferrara – Largo Castello 1

When: 1385

Style: Medieval/Renaissance

Open for visit: Yes

18. Castello di Torrechiara (Castle of Torrechiara)

Italian Castles Castello-di-Torrechiara

It was the place where the love story between Pier Maria Rossi and Bianca Pellegrini took place and it seems to be escaped from an epic poem. It is said that Pier Maria’s ghost still lingers in the rooms.

Where: Torrechiara (Parma)– Borgo del Castello

When: XV century

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: Yes

19. Rocca Sanvitale (Sanvitale Fortress)

Famous Castles in Italy Rocca-Sanvitale

In the heart of the picturesque village of Fontanellato, you can see this ancient fortress surrounded by a moat filled with water. Inside, you’ll have the chance to admire many works of art and an entire room painted by Parmigianino with scenes taken from the myth of Diana and Actaeon.

Where: Fontanellato (Parma)– Piazza Giacomo Matteotti 1

When: 1124

Style: Neo-gothic

Open for visit: Yes

20. Rocca Viscontea di Catell’Arquato (Visconti’s Fortress of Castell’Arquato)

Famous Castles in Italy Castell’Arquato

When visiting this ancient fortress, you’ll experience a true return to the Middle Ages! Its tall towers are visible from a distance and they stand out among the local vineyards.

Where: Castell’Arquato (Piacenza)– Giardini Giovanni Paolo 3

When: 1349

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

Toscana

The majority of Tuscan castles have been reconverted to more modern uses, but they kept their charm thanks to accurate restoration works. They are especially concentrated in the Lunigiana area.

21. Castello Banfi (Banfi Castle)

Best Italian Castles Castello-Banfi

Today, it houses a Museum telling the story of glass from the Vth century on. The castle is also an important wine estate.

Where: Montalcino (Siena)– Frazione Poggio alle Mura

When: 1438

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: Yes

22. Castello Malaspina (Malaspina Castle)

Castles in Italy Castello-Malaspina

It is located on top of a hill and it was a former military fortress. It’s been recently restored and it is now a private property belonging to the Gherardesca Family. Inside, there is a B&B, but you still have the possibility to visit its rooms with a guided tour.

Where: Fosdinovo (Massa Carrara) – via Papiriana 2

When: XIV century

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

Marche

Here you’ll find some medieval castles offering beautiful views of the local hilly landscape. The most famous one is

 23. Castello di Gradara (Castle of Gradara)

Best Castles in Italy Castello-di-Gradara

It is located close to the border dividing Marche from Emilia Romagna and it is a well-preserved example of a medieval castle surrounded by a small village enclosed by its walls. From its windows, you’ll have an amazing view of the hills and the sea.

Where: Gradara (Pesaro-Urbino) – Piazza V Novembre 1

When: 1150

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

Umbria

The rich historic heritage of this Region is well represented by its castles and fortresses, which also enjoy one of the most beautiful rural areas in Italy.

24. Rocca Albornoziana (Albornozian Fortress)

Italian Castles Rocca-Albornoziana

This fortress is located on top of S Elia’s hill. Its construction was ordered by Pope Innocenzo VI to reinforce the authority of the Church over Central Italy.

Where: Spoleto – Piazza Campello 1

When: 1367

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

25. Rocca Maggiore (Major Fortress)

Famous Castles in Italy Rocca-Maggiore

It is located on the highest part of Assisi. From its walls, you can admire a typical rural landscape and you can even see the cities of Spoleto and Perugia.

Where: Assisi – via della Rocca

When: 1173

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

Abruzzo

This mountain Region hosts a picturesque medieval castle in a special location: Gran Sasso National Park!

26. Rocca Calascio (Calascio Fortress)

Best Italian Castles Rocca-Calascio

It is located 1450 m above sea level in the Central Apennines. The entire surrounding area is part of Gran Sasso National Park. Its height and the beautiful mountain landscape owed this ancient fortress the 15th place in the National Geographic’s list of the most beautiful castles in the world.

Where: Calascio (L’Aquila)

When: 1000

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

Lazio

Many local castles are now ruined, but some of them are still open to the public and show the rich history of this area through the centuries.

27. Castel Sant’Angelo (S. Angel’s Castle)

Castles in Italy Castel-Sant’Angelo

It was built by Emperor Adriano to be the mausoleum of his family. Afterward, it was used as a military fortress, as a part of the city walls and even as a prison. Today, a huge museum illustrates its long history and its different functions throughout the centuries.

Where: Roma – Lungotevere Castello 50

When: 139 dc

Style: Etruscan/Romanesque

Open for visit: Yes

28. Castello Odescalchi (Odescalchi’s Castle)

Best Castles in Italy Castello-Odescalchi

Just a few kilometers from Rome, you’ll find this beautiful castle with a large garden that it’s often used as a setting for marriages and events.

Where: Bracciano (Roma) – Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini 14

When: 1485

Style: Renaissance

Open for visit: Yes

29. Civita di Bagnoregio

Italian Castles Civita-di-Bagnoregio

In the so-called “Ravine’s Valley”, on top of a steep bedrock, there’s a tiny medieval village with its castle. Due to the progressive erosion of the rocks and the frequent landslides, it is now completely isolated and its only access is a pedestrian bridge. For this reason, the village is almost abandoned and today only a dozen people live there. For this reason, it is also called “The Dying City”.

Where: Bagnoregio (Viterbo) – via Ferriera

When: 500 BC

Style: Romanesque

Open for visit: Yes

Campania

Many kings and nobles ruled this area in the past, but the two main dynasties were Anjou and Aragonese. Their royal palaces and residences are still well-preserved and they complete and enhance the appeal of the beautiful Napoli Gulf.

30. Castel dell’ Ovo (Egg Castle)

Famous Castles in Italy Castel-dell’Ovo

It is located on a tiny island linked to the mainland. Its strange name stems from an old legend: the poet Virgil hid an egg in the underground passages of the castle. This egg is responsible for the luck of the castle and the city of Naples so that it shall not be moved nor even found!

Where: Napoli – via Eldorado 3

When: XII century

Style: Norman

Open for visit: Yes

31. Castel Nuovo (Maschio Angioino)

Best Italian Castles Castel-Nuovo

It was the residence of Charles I d’Anjou. Thanks to his heir Robert d’Anjou, it became a famous cultural hub for artists and poets (even Giotto was received as a special guest!)

Where: Napoli – via Vittorio Emanuele III

When: XIII century

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: Yes

32. Castel Sant’Elmo (S. Elmo’s Castle)

Best Italian Castles Castel-Sant’Elmo

Another royal residence of the Anjou family. Today, it houses a museum celebrating modern and contemporary local artists.

Where: Napoli – via Tito Angelini 22

When: 1329

Style: Medieval

Open for visit: Yes

33. Castello Aragonese (Aragonese Castle)

Castles in Italy Castello-Aragonese

It is located on a tiny island linked to Ischia by a bridge dating back to the XV century. Its special perspective makes it look like it’s just emerged from the sea.

Where: Ischia Island (Napoli)

When: 1441

Style: Romanesque/Baroque

Open for visit: Yes

Puglia

One of the most touristic areas of Southern Italy, which is also extremely rich in castles and fortresses. You’ll be able to observe many different styles and several types of architecture and decorations reflecting the different dominations which this area was subject to in the past.

34. Castel del Monte

Best Castles in Italy Castel-del-Monte

Its iconic octagonal shape makes it one of the most famous buildings in Southern Italy. It was built on top of a hill by Frederick II, Emperor of the Sacred Roman Empire. Thanks to its peculiar appearance, it was included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Where: Andria – Strada Statale 170

When: 1240

Style: Gothic/Arabic

Open for visit: Yes

35. Castello dei Badiali (Fortress of San Nicola Island)

Best Castles in Italy Fortress-of-San-Nicola-Island

San Nicola belongs to the Tremiti Islands, a small archipelago famous for being a popular diving destination. The imposing fortress dominates the coast and it was meant to be the main defense system against pirates.

Where: San Nicola (Tremiti Islands) – via Diomede 9

When: XIII century

Style: Gothic

Open for visit: Yes

36. Castello di Carlo V (Castle of Charles V)

In the Old Town of Lecce, you can see the former residence of King Charles V. It was rebuilt and renovated many times throughout the centuries and it shows an interesting mix of architectural styles.

Where: Lecce – viale Felice Cavallotti

When: 1539

Style: mainly Renaissance

Open for visit: Yes

37. Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle)

Best Italian Castles Castello-Svevo

It was built by Roger II “The Norman” to protect his lands. It was inhabited by several kings and nobles afterward, who changed the original structure and overall appearance.

Where: Bari – Piazza Federico II di Svevia 4

When: 1132

Style: mainly Renaissance

Open for visit: Yes

Sicilia

In Sicily, you can see a great Arabic influence, both in its works of art, its architecture and its culture too. Unfortunately, the majority of Sicilian castles are ruined today.

38. Castello Ursino (Ursino Castle)

Italian Castles Castello-Ursino

It was built by Emperor Frederik II (Sacred Roman Empire). Today, it houses the civic museum of Catania with a rich collection of pieces of art from the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Where: Catania – Piazza Federico di Svevia

When: XIII century

Style: Swabian

Open for visit: Yes

 

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