When you think of European castles, the medieval citadels of Britain, the glamorous chateaux of France and the fairytale castles of Germany come to mind, but there are also some darling Italian castles. They might not be as well known as their European cousins but really, these following are Italian castles you will want to call home.
Perched above the charming hill town of Spoleto, La Rocca Albornoziana is one of the Italian castles you’ll definitely want to visit. Located in the southern Umbria region, this castle for the ages was built in the 14th century atop the foundation of a Roman acropolis. With widespread views of the village of Spoleto all the way over the gorge to the Bridge of Towers, Rocca Albornoziana was perched at such a height for the local political governors to use the castle as their seat. Six towers, two courtyards, and plenty of fabulous frescoes await you here. However, the castle is only open for tours, so if you want to play pretend princess, you must arrange a tour at the ticket office at the castle’s entrance.
Another stunning hill town, serving as the backdrop of several films, Castell’Arquato is tucked away in northern Italy, in the region of a Emilia Romagna. Rocca Viscontea di Castell’Arquato is the castle fortress which dominates the scene. This small castle is not overpopulated by tourists, so you’ll have plenty of time and space to breathe it all in. The fortress museum provides a history of the castle and the medieval times, encompassed in four rooms, along with a video which tells the tale. After a brief stair-climb, high atop the castle tower, the whole of the town spreads before you, tumbling down the hillside while the vast countryside gleams brightly all around.
Located alongside the lovely village of Portovenere, Andria Doria Castle was built by the Genoese and lies on the Italian Riviera. With its centuries-long history, dating back to the 1100s, the castle is presently home to a charming art museum, which is open to the public in the summer. Narrow cobblestoned streets trail through the village to the castle, where you’ll find spectacular views of the sea. On the edge of the promontory, the gorgeous San Pietro Church is also worth a visit.
With some of the loveliest landscaping to rival any of the snootier Italian castles, Castello Brown is situated in Portofino, a small village on the Italian Riviera. The castle’s pleasant garden and lovely sea views will have you lamenting your non-royal lineage. Castello Brown’s namesake is Yeats Brown, British consul to Genoa who used to reside here in 1870. You could say the Browns still live in Castello Brown, as their pictures remain mounted on the walls, and their home furnishings still decorate the rooms. There have been many famous and celebrity visitors to Portofino, and you’ll be able to chronicle the “who’s who” in the castle’s photo gallery. Open in the summer and in winter, the castle is accessible via a footpath through the botanic gardens.
Hovering over the preserved medieval town of Pontremoli, Castello del Piagnaro is located in the region of Lunigiana in northern Tuscany. This restored castle takes its name from the piagne (or slate slabs) which cover the area. A fantastic view of the hilly landscape and of Pontremoli itself can be seen from the castle grounds. The Museum of Statue-Menhirs can also be found on the grounds, home to significant prehistoric steel and sandstone sculptures. The castle and museum are opened year-round, and only close to the public on Mondays in the winter.
The Renaissance city of Ferrara is walled in and lies on Emilia Romagna’s Po Delta. With its Romanesque and Gothic architecture, the city is picture perfect, and the medieval Castello Estense di Ferrara only adds to the picture. Located in the city’s old town, you can view this majestic castle best from the front rooms at Albergo Annunziata.
Want to dip into the most picturesque of Italian castles without traveling to an obscure countryside village? Milan’s Castello Sforzesco is not buried in the countryside, but lies right in the city’s downtown. In fact, you can walk to it from the duomo. Built in the 15th century, Castello Sforzesco has undergone several renovations and stands strong for modern-day viewing. Several museums have been housed in the complex since the 19th century, up until the present day.
They may not be world-renowned but these gems of Italian castles certainly hold their own as attractions. Do you dream of finding your Prince Charming in a castle?
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