Castles in Italy Italy is a land of castles. At one time every city or village had its own castle as a defensive fortress during periods of war. Castles were home to the nobles and symbolized the power of those families. Today many of these castles have been damaged or destroyed by assaults or abandoned, however many are still beautiful and attract visitors from all over the world.
Most of these are museums that can reconstruct the atmosphere of the past, or have become places for the display of paintings, objects, and much more. Which are the 20 most beautiful castles in Italy? We will see some luxury castles in Italy, as well as medieval castles in Italy!
20 Most Beautiful Castles in Italy
Let’s begin our journey among the most beautiful castles in Italy. In this list, you will find some of the castle’s tourists should not miss when visiting Italy. You’ll find here castles of all ages, medieval castles in Italy, and luxury castles in Italy! You’ll also find free castles in Italy to visit, and overall discover the many faces and many castles around the country!
1. Miramare castle
Let’s start our journey among the 20 most beautiful castles in Italy with Miramare. The construction of the building and its park started around 1855. This magical place overlooks the sea on Grignano promontory, in Trieste.
The style mixes of Gothic, Medieval, and Renaissance models combined together, moreover, art, and nature blend perfectly. The scenario is stunning and the interior is sumptuous with decorations with red tapestries. Definitely one of the most beautiful luxury castles in Italy.
2. Castello Sforzesco, Milan
Castello Sforzesco is one of the most famous medieval castles in Italy. It is located in the heart of the historic center of Milan. The structure is perfectly maintained. The construction started in the second half of the fourteenth century thanks to the Visconti family, lords of Milan. After the conclusion of the Visconti dynasty the castle was destroyed, however, works for the rebuilding started in 1450 by Francesco Sforza I.
He requested many changes inside the building, for instance, he ordered the construction of the median tower. At the end of the fifteenth century, the castle became one of the most sumptuous locations in Europe thanks to the works of Bramante and Leonardo da Vinci. Unfortunately, it went through several bombings.
In the twentieth century, the castle acquired the name of “Sforzesco”. Now if you’re looking to visit free castles in Italy, Castello Sforzesco is open for the public. The only thing you should have to pay for is if you want to visit the museum inside the castle.
3. Estense castle, Ferrara
The Estense castle in Ferrara is one of the most amazing medieval castles in Italy! Estense Castle Ferrara is made with red terracotta bricks and is characterized by four towers surrounded by the moat. In 1385, in Ferrara, Niccolò II d’Este ordered the construction of a powerful defense building: the Castle of San Michele.
There is a covered passage that connects the military building to the palace of the marquises, today the Town Hall. The castle presents roof terraces above the towers, marble balconies, the courtyard of honor with sixteenth-century lines, moreover, the sumptuous frescoed apartments are stunning.
This is one of the beautiful castles in Italy that are a symbol of the magnificence of the D’Este family. If you’re looking for free castles in Italy to visit, you can enter the courtyard of the castle for free!
4. Buonconiglio Castle Trento
Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento is one of the most stunning half medieval castles in Italy. Bishops lived here from the 12th to the 18th century, the Buonconsiglio Castle is the largest and most important monumental complex in the region and also one of the be most beautiful castles in Italy.
The building rises on a rocky relief in the city of Trento, moreover, it is the most important non-religious monument in the province. The construction took place between 1239 and 1255.
A set of buildings from different eras compose the castle, moreover, an imposing sixteenth-century city wall surrounds the castle. Cylindrical bastions reinforce the walls and contain a lovely garden. The tower of Augustus dominates everything.
Since 1973 the castle has housed the Provincial Art Museum, called “Castello del Buonconsiglio, provincial monuments and collections”. There are numerous collections of art, paintings, sculptures, graphic works, manuscripts, majolica stoves, as well as archaeological and numismatic collections.
5. Castello Aragonese Otranto
Beautiful castles in Italy stand inland or overlooking the sea. The Aragonese Castle in front of the sea is part of the walls that surround the city of Otranto in the Puglia region. This jewel is a military architecture built between 1485 and 1498 at the behest of Ferdinand I of Aragon on the remains of an ancient fortified building dating back to 1067.
The aim of the fortress was to counter the threat from the sea, for instance, the Turk’s invasion of 1480. The castle has a pentagonal plan, for instance, the most striking is the Punta di Diamante bastion, and its three imposing circular towers Alfonsina.
Once you cross the external walls, you find yourself in the center of a large quadrangular courtyard from which, via stone stairs, it is possible to reach the gallery and from here the upper rooms. Castello Aragonese, or the Aragonese Castle is definitely one of those medieval castles in Italy that you should visit if you are in Otranto!
6. Castello del Valentino, Turin
The Valentino Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy and Savoia residence. It is a 17th-century castle in Italy, a masterpiece, that experienced its heyday when the Duchess Christina of France chose it as her residence for recreation and entertainment.
The Valentino castle is located in Valentino Park, moreover, it is the seat of the Faculty of Architecture of the Polytechnic of Turin, it is open to the public on Saturdays with guided tours. The Valentino castle is a horseshoe-shaped building, with four corner towers and a large courtyard.
The central part of the main facade has a loggia flanked by coupled masonry columns in bands, placed on a high base, and surmounted by statues depicting the Four Seasons. There are clear references to French architecture, for instance, the slate roofs with sloping pitches; the pavilion structure, and two fake attic floors. We can definitely call the Valentino Castle one of the most stunning luxury castles in Italy.
7. Castelvecchio, Verona
Castelvecchio is one of the most popular medieval castles in Italy! Verona is a beautiful city, and Castelvecchio is one of the most stunning monuments in the city. The castle overlooks the banks of the Adige river and was built between 1354 and 1356 by Prince Cangrande II Della Scala. The building is a huge fortress made of seven corner towers.
The castle was in fact used for military purposes until 1926 when it became the seat of the Civic Museum. What makes Castelvecchio fascinating and one of the most beautiful castles in Italy is above all the walkways that allow you to look at Verona from above and admire it.
8. Castello Scaligero di Malcesine
The medieval castle stands out from the top of the village on the shore of Lake Garda. A fortification may have existed on this bank since the 5th century. Although a military structure had been present for centuries, probably it was in the thirteenth century that the castle was enlarged.
In 1902, the castle of Malcesine become a national monument. If you climb the tower you will enjoy a breathtaking and unforgettable view, however, you may be suddenly awakened by the bell of the clock on the tower: it rings every hour!
9. Rocca Scaligera di Sirmione
The Sirmione Castle welcomes visitors who arrive in the beautiful town of Sirmione on Lake Garda. So the Sirmione Castle and its fourteenth-century dock, still in perfect condition, represent a rare case of fortification intended for port use. If you’re visiting Sirmione, this is definitely one of the best medieval castles in Italy to visit!
Sirmione Castle is one of the most impressive medieval fortresses in Europe built on water, in fact, water surrounds it on all sides. The castle also saw very cruel and bloody battles during the years. Sirmione Castle probably stands on the ruins of an ancient Roman fortification.
The aim of its construction was to defend the village and control the port. Today it is possible to access the castle only through the drawbridge, entering the castle leads to the main courtyard, rectangular in shape, surrounded by high walls and corner towers.
10. Aragonese castle, Ischia
This is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy, moreover, it is often the protagonist of amazing pictures and postcards. In 1441, Alfonso fo Aragon commissioned the manor, symbol of Ischia. This Aragonese castle in Ischia is definitely one of the most stunning medieval castles in Italy and one of the best castles to visit in Campania region!
The construction of the first castle dates back to 474 BC, however, the current appearance came after renovations of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
On the top of the hill stand four cylindrical columns separated from the prison by a vineyard. In 1823 the entire castle became a detention house by the Bourbon government. The southern area appears as a real agricultural village with streets made of cobblestones.
11. Forte di Bardi
The Fortress of Bardi is an extraordinary example of the Italian Middle Age castle. It is located in the province of Parma and stands on the top of a rocky spur. In 898, Everardo, bishop of Piacenza, transformed it into a refuge against possible invasions by the Hungarians.
In 1257 Ubertino Landi bought the Taro and Ceno valleys from the Piacentino municipality and took possession of the structure, moreover, his family transformed the ancient fortress into a luxurious residence. There is also an Archaeological Museum and a permanent exhibition of the art of the twentieth century.
12. Castel Sant’Angelo, Rome
During your trip to Rome, you cannot fail to visit Castel Sant’Angelo. The construction of the building began in 125 AD. From a fortified outpost, it became a prison and a magnificent Renaissance residence.
In 1367 the building became papal property, also hosting the Vatican Archives and Treasury. Visitors can find various collections within the splendid frescoed halls. Castel Sant’ Angelo is definitely one of the most beautiful castles in Italy! Also, make sure to check our list for other castles around Rome, in the Lazio region that you should visit!
13. Torrechiara Castle
Torrechiara Castle is one of the most beautiful medieval castles in Italy. It is a perfect combination of medieval and Renaissance elements. The construction started between 1448 and 1460 and stands on a hill overlooking the valley of the Parma stream: this position, suggestively panoramic, was strategic to ensure control over the territory. Count Pier Maria Rossi ordered the construction for the sake of Bianca Pellegrini.
To access the castle it is necessary to face a long and steep climb, however, the sumptuousness of the rooms and the spectacular view of the surroundings will pay back the effort. The rooms have no furniture, however, the frescoes (mostly from the sixteenth century) accompany the visitor with lush colors and bizarre figures, according to the fashion of grotesque decoration that was so popular at the time. The last room, the count’s bedroom, offers the most intense emotion.
14. Savoia Castle, Gressoney-Saint-Jean
Queen Margherita of Savoy ordered the construction of the Savoy Castle, among the most beautiful castles in Italy! The building stands in the Belvedere area, with a wonderful view of the Monte Rosa valley. In 1936, the industrialist Moretti bought the Savoia castle, which is now the property of the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley in 1981.
Designed by the architect Emilio Stramucci in neo-Gothic style. The castle has a central nucleus flanked by five spire towers, each one different from the other, moreover, there is a wooden staircase decorated with griffins and eagles.
The refined and elegant interior is a tribute to its sovereign, moreover, the architectural decorations, and magnificent medieval-inspired furnishings recall the taste and refinement of the queen. A fascinating botanical garden surrounds the castle. The Savoy Castle in the Aosta Valley is definitely luxury castles in Italy, a gem!
15. Castello di Fenis
20 km from Antey-Saint-André, there is one of the best-preserved and most beautiful medieval castles in Italy: Fénis Castle. It is on downstream in a point devoid of natural defenses, in fact, the purpose of the caste was to flaunt the wealth of the owner’s family. The first document mentioning the castle dates back to 1242.
The castle went through a long period of neglect, during which it was even used as a barn until in the second half of the nineteenth century the architect D’Andrade bought it and restored it. While visiting the castle you will also discover numerous furnishings and furniture exhibited here.
16. Battipaglia castelluccia
The date of construction is uncertain, however, we know that the Archbishop of Salerno bought the Castelluccia at the beginning of the 12th century by a local family called Battipaglia. In the 13th century, the castle became the scene of bloody battles between the army of Henry IV of Swabia and that of Frederick II of Swabia.
Various restorations took place, the most significant (of 1920) almost completely changed the original appearance, however, it is still possible to see some parts of the original walls. Three quadrangular towers enrich the external facade. In Battipaglia the rooms on the ground floor have magnificent cross vaults carved out of the bare stone, dating back to the year 1000.
The view from the large windows, which embraces the bay of Trentova and reaches the Amalfi coast, is suggestive, giving the visitor a view over the entire Piana del Sele. Battipaglia is definitely one of the best medieval castles in Italy you can visit!
17. Rocchetta Mattei
Tourists can find Rocchetta Mattei in the Reno Valley, on the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. The design and construction date back to the nineteenth century. As one of the most beautiful castles in Italy, it looks like a fairy tale castle.
It combines different styles, from the Neo-medieval to the Moorish to the Liberty, moreover, rooms, courtyards, passages, stairways, arches, painted vaults, and towers create a sort of labyrinth. Count Cesare Mattei chose this place with the intent of making it cradle electro homeopathy. A great place to visit if you’re looking for castles in Tuscany and the neighboring regions!
18. Rocca Monaldeschi della Cervara
From the Rocca Monaldeschi della Cervara di Bolsena, you can enjoy a beautiful view of Lake Bolsena and the entire town. The construction of the castle dates back to 1295 by the magistrates of Orvieto. In 1334 Ermanno Monaldeschi started to carry out the works to complete and strengthen the fortress.
The position of the fortress, as an outpost with respect to the village and dominion over the lake, always ensured its defensive functions, moreover, the structure has a square plan, with four corner towers and the entrance placed on a parallel axis and diametrically opposite to the entrance to the village. Inside there is also the territorial museum of Lake Bolsena.
19. Ussel castle
The construction took palace between 1341 and 1345. It is the first monobloc castle in the Aosta Valley, therefore it marks a turning point in the history of feudal military architecture in the region.
On the northern side, the castle shows the grimmest face, in fact, it has soaring square towers symbolizing the power of the feudal lord.
The mullioned windows, all different from each other in the arches and columns are beautiful. The castle is currently the site of exhibitions and displays.
20. Visconti Fortress of Castell’Arquato
Visconti Fortress is one of the cutest medieval castles in Italy! The village of Castell’Arquato is 33 km from Piacenza, also famous for some scenes from the film Ladyhawke. The construction of the Visconti Fortress took place between 1342 and 1349. The building, all in red brick, includes two parts connected to each other.
A lower rectangular enclosure, wider, arranged on two steps, and a smaller one, positioned higher. The entire complex is 42-meter-high and dominates the entire valley. If you’re looking for free castles in Italy to visit, definitely head to Piacenza and pay a visit to Castell’Arquato. One of the most beautiful castles in Piacenza province!
Wrapping up the 20 most beautiful castles in Italy
We’ve seen some of the most stunning castles in Italy, along with luxury castles in Italy, and free castles in Italy to visit. Perched on majestic mountains, immersed in fairytale landscapes, or lapped by the water. Italian castles, so different from each other, tell us stories that are long gone, on the border between reality and legend.
Hopefully, you have dreamt a little bit while reading this list and you will be ready for your next visit to Italy, making a tour among some beautiful castles in Italy! and, if you’d like to discover some underrated spots in Italy, take a look at these amazing hidden beaches!