In this little tour of Italy
, we’ll take you from the alpine mountains of the Südtirol down to the hot Mediterranean island of Sicily, through big cities and dense forests, from family-owned businesses to upscale hotels. We’ll check out fabulous lakeside villas where the rich and famous go to relax at secluded havens of medieval beauty nestled in stunning natural landscapes. Here are some Italian castles where you’ll get to stay the night.
Eremo della Giubiliana
In this ex-convent, decadent luxury is the name of the game. This glorious stone estate dates back to the 12th century. It served as a monk’s cell and an Arab country home, so it’s part of Sicily‘s fantastically mixed history. It’s full of lush, verdant lemon groves and beautifully quaint little cottages dotted over the ample green space. Each lodging comes with a private garden, fireplace and period furnishings. The hotel’s private beach is a slice of Mediterranean paradise. You’ll also get a taste of this incredible island through the traditional Sicilian dishes prepared with the organic fruits and vegetables produced right on the grounds.
Eremo della Giubiliana, Strada Provinciale per Marina di Ragusa km 7.5, 97100 Ragusa, Sicily, 39 0932 669 119
Castello delle Quattro Torra, Siena
This beautiful four-towered castle in Tuscan is just a 15 minute drive from Siena and half an hour from Florence, making it both accessible and attractively removed from all that hustle and bustle. The place has been carefully restored to keep intact the beautiful brickwork, the high ceilings and terracotta flooring. There’s a welcoming, intimate atmosphere, and the staff is very helpful with booking tours or day trips around the area. The nearby farmhouse restaurant owned by the same family is a gem.
Castello delle Quattro Torra, Str. di Pieve a Bozzone, 36, 53100 Siena SI, Italy, +39 333 466 3208
Driving up to this gorgeous building by boat and stepping through its Grand Canal entrance will make you feel like instant aristocracy, even if you were born a mere commoner. It’s a 15th century nobleman’s house, built at a time when Venice was the heart of a vast and enormously wealthy empire. You can still smell the residue of all that power in the opulent period rooms, up the grandiose marble staircase and throughout each of the magnificently furnished suites. Art lovers will delight in discovering hidden masterpieces, and food lovers will be charmed by the restaurant, which serves up Venetian cuisine at its most refined. Activities include trips to the nearby islands of Murano and Burano and cooking classes with the chef that also include an excursion to the famous Rialto Market.
Hotel Schloss Korb
In the northern region of the Südtirol, there’s a distinct culture that’s kind of a mix between Italian and Austro-Hungarian. This castle is a Tyrolese dream nestled in a pristine landscape. You’ll have a glorious view of the jagged peaks of the Dolomites and the little towns below. The hills around the castle are covered with vineyards, and the owners produce their own wine here, so be sure to pay the wine bunker a visit.
Hotel Schloss Korb, Via Castel d’Appiano, 5, 39050 Missiano di Appiano BZ, Italy, +39 0471 636000
Castel di Luco
Immersed in the lush forests of the Marche region and the simplicity of rural life, the Castel di Luco is a beautiful round castle that’s owned and operated by the Amici family. They’ve lived here for about two centuries, so they’re truly part of the history of the place. They’vekept prices on the affordable side of castle-living too. Lodgings are full of genuine medieval charm, in an original 15th century hamlet just below the structure. The castle itself also has a beautiful restaurant up a glorious rock staircase that serves local specialties.
With marble arcades and warm-colored walls absolutely smothered in fresh greenery and flowers, the Hotel Palumbo is a slice of paradise right on the Amalfi Coast. Each room is impeccably appointed, with names instead of numbers, and the building’s architecture has a delightful suggestion of North African design. When weather permits, the castle also maintains a private beach villa. The hotel produces its own wine under the Episcopio label, so you’ll have plenty of reason to conduct thorough tastings during your stay.
Hotel Palumbo, Via S. Giovanni del Toro, 16 Ravello (Salerno), Italy, +39 089 857 244
Generations of the wealthy and fabulous have spent their leisure time here in this legendary villa right on the shore of Lake Como. It’s decked out in all the accouterments of a fancy period home: frescoed ceilings, grand marble staircase, priceless antiques and a magnificent five-acre garden and park that will give Versailles a run for its money. Lake activities and excursions in the region can be arranged, plus you can lounge by the pool, go to the bar or enjoy the spa.
Villa d’Este, Via Regina, 40, 22012 Cernobbio (Como), Italy, +39 031 3481
Castello di Petroia
This beautiful fortress set in the Umbrian countryside is surrounded by a forest with winding footpaths and olive groves, perfect for exploring. The outdoor pool is complemented by whirlpools in some of the rooms. The hotel offers activities like truffle hunting and horseback riding. It’s a medieval daydream, especially when the castle’s quirky owner, Carlo Sagrini, sits down to dine with his guests, bringing out stories of the castle’s past.
Castello di Petroia, Località Petroia, 06024 Gubbio PG, Italy, +39 075 920287