- Luca Pinelli
A country of great food, enchanting landscapes and complex histories, Italy is one of the most beloved destinations in all Europe. We’ve put together a list of the 10 most beautiful castles in The Boot to help travellers unravel some of the land’s more intriguing and majestic sights.
Located near Tyrol, Castel Fontana, Brunnenburg in German, dates back to 1250 and was built at Wilhelm Tarant’s behest. Today this castle houses an agricultural museum which was opened in 1974 and is devoted to the lives of local farmers. Here, tourists can find animals from the area as well as other non-permanent exhibitions.
Ezra Pound Straße 3, Tyrol, Italy, +39 0473 923533
Located on the ancient island of Megaride, now a peninsula, Castel dell’Ovo is definitely one of the most breathtaking fortifications still standing in southern Italy. The name refers to an episode in ancient history which tells of Virgil hiding an egg (in Italian “uovo”) in a cage in the dungeon of the castle. Its location and its ancient history make it a beautiful place with a never-waning fascination.
via Eldorado 3, Naples, Italy, +39 081 7954593
Castello di Fénis
Located in the wonderful independent region of Valle d’Aosta, Castello di Fénis boasts both the defensive structure that is typical of a stronghold and the wonderful adornments of noble palaces. Walking through its paths and meanders will shed light on life in the Middle Ages, so any tourist fascinated by this epoch and its architecture is sure to enjoy. Because it is situated amid meadows and trees, Castello di Fénis combines art and nature in surprising ways.
Frazione Chez Sapin 1, Fénis, Italy, +39 0165 764263
Located north of Siena, Monteriggioni is a burg which was constructed on top of a low hill dotted with olive groves and vines. It was built by Siena in the 13th century as a stronghold during the years in which they were facing Florence as a rival, until it was incorporated into the dominion of the latter during the 16th century. Today it stands as a solitary reminder of the past and the Middle Ages amid the Tuscan countryside.
Castel Sant’Angelo is one of the most renowned castles in Italy, perhaps thanks to its location in central Rome. It was constructed by Emperor Hadrian in 123 AD to house his remains and has remained the only building of Roman times to survive the centuries whilst still being used in each. In particular, it hosted artists of the likes of Michelangelo as well as different prisoners. Put simply, it’s not to be missed in any tour of Rome.
Lungotevere Castello 50, Rome, Italy, +39 06 32810
Fortezza di San Leo
Described as one of the best Italian towns by the Italian writer Umberto Eco, San Leo is a small town in the province of Rimini. It boasts a wonderful stronghold dating back to the Renaissance as well as a series of other enchanting monuments, such as the local Duomo and a few other palaces. Located on top of a rocky mound covered with thick vegetation, the castle combines art, architecture and nature in breathtaking ways. In the past it had always performed the function of prison, but from the beginning of the 20th century onwards it has remained just a historical monument which welcomes thousands of tourists every year.
via dei Cacciatori, San Leo, Rimini, Italy, +39 0541 916306
Located halfway between Milan and Geneva, Fort Bard remains today one of the best preserved examples of a 19th century blockhouse. Built by the Savoy dynasty, it is structured in three different stages, each of which used to serve different functions. The altitude varies from 400 to 467 metres above sea level, while the top of the building can be accessed easily via lift, offering another opportunity to enjoy the wonderful landscapes of the Valle d’Aosta.
Bard, Italy, +39 0125 833811
Designed by Tommaso Buzzi, an celebrated architect of the 20th century, La Scarzuola is conceived to be an ideal city with peculiar characteristics and different routes meandering through the town. Although not a castle proper, it is nonetheless something of a burg, a town inspired by the Middle Ages. La Scarzuola was built in the 20th century next to a convent which was founded by St Francis in the 13th century, so it’s easy to slot in during a greater cultural tour of the area.
Montegabbione, Italy, +39 0763 837463
Castle Of Otranto
Any aficionado of English literature will find this castle familiar; it is, after all, the name of a 1764 Gothic novel by Horace Walpole, often regarded as the first of its genre. Located on the sea, this castle is extremely enchanting and delightful, if a tad spooky, especially at dusk and in the evening. After dark, when the lights of the city float on the water, the castle is at its best.
Piazza Castello, Otranto, Italy, +39 199 151123
Castle of Sirmione
Situated on the beautiful Lake Garda, Castle of Sirmione is one of the assets of the area and of its eponymous town. Generally referred to as Scaliger Castle, it was built in the 13th century on the remains of a previous construction dating back to ancient Roman times. It is one of the best preserved castles in Italy and has recently started to attract a large number of visitors from all over the world. The only access to the castle is through the drawbridge as the other sides of the castle are surrounded by water. Part of the lake is also enclosed by its walls, thus making it one of the best examples of lacustrine architecture.
viale Guglielmo Marconi 2, Sirmione, Italy, +39 030 916114