Discover the best castles in Italy with Rome Private Guides: we will show you the 7 most beautiful castles in Italy, a journey through history and magic.
If you want to live in a dream and feel like a knight or a princess in a fairytale for a day, just follow us: we will show you the most extraordinary castles throughout Italy!
Perched on majestic mountains, washed by the sea, or lost in the wildest natural scenarios, these castles are so beautiful and so different from each other. They can each tell the story of the countless characters who inhabited or passed through the castle, legends and real stories of love, wars and political intrigues.
What will your next destination be? Which castles will you visit? Tell us in the comments!
Melfi Castle – Basilicata
The castle of Melfi, in the south of Italy, is a beautiful jewel the city of Melfi is very proud of. They say it was built on the remains of a previous fortification, commissioned by Roberto il Guiscardo, but it was Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II to order its enlargment. What we can see today is though the result of workings commissioned by the Angevin dynasty. The Castle is an irregular polygon with eight huge towers. To reach the eastern entrance you walk across an elegant bridge with three arches, which overlooks a wide moat and leaves you to a big tower with a pentagonal shape, called “Clock Tower”.
A little bit further you will admire the “Tower of the seven winds”, also called “Tower of the Emperor” and the “Angevin Tower”. The Castle of Melfi is the castle which best shows the greatness of King Frederick II: it was in Melfi that he created a school of Logics and Humanities to train his officers in 1230. Just a year later he issued the Melfitan Constitution and the “Augustalis Laws”, which are a milestone among the Constitutions of the Reign of Naples.
Scaliger Castle in Sirmione – Lombardy
Let’s travel north and reach the Lake of Garda to admire a beautiful castle which used to be the residence of the Scaliger family, or Della Scala. You will fall in love with the beautiful village of Sirmione at first sight: its historical centre is a peninsula overlooking the lake, boasting views which will leave you breathless. The majestic Scaliger Castle dominates the scene and it is considered one of the best preserved examples of medieval port fortification, used by the Scaliger fleet.
It boasts the typical Ghibelline swallowtail merlons and stands at a strategic place at the entrance to the peninsula. It is surrounded by a moat and it can only be entered by two drawbridges. The castle was established to protect against enemies, but also against the locals. If you visit the castle inside, in the main room you will find a small museum with local finds from the Roman era and a few medieval artifacts.
Miramare Castle – Friuli-Venezia Giulia
The Castle of Miramare was built by Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Hapsburg for his beautiful wife, Charlotte of Belgium, in 1860. He wanted a residence perfect for a queen, which could be their love nest – isolated between the Adriatic sea and a lush 22 hectare green park. The castle still houses the original furniture of one of the most beautiful noble houses in Italy, hosted inside a white, sophsticated structure which obviously reminds us of a fairy-tale castle.
Talking of fairytales… They say a the castle is cursed… Do you still want to visit it? The curse has a long story: the Mexican monarchists had been after Maximilian to take the Mexican throne since 1859 and it was only after the French intervention in Mexico and under pressure from Napoleon III, that he finally agreed. But when Napoleon III ended French support of Maximilian and withdrew French troops from Mexico, Maximilian refused to leave Mexico and Juarez ordered to kill him. Charlotte went crazy after his husband’s death and spent the rest of her days in seclusion, hanging on to the possessions they shared.
From this tragic story, the legend was born that Castello di Miramare is cursed: anyone who sleeps there is fated to die a violent death at a young age and in a foreign land!
Saint Angel’s Castle – Rome
One of the most reknown landmarks of the ethernal city, Saint Angel’s Castle – original name Castel Sant’Angelo – was built along the river Tiber, in front of the amazing Angels’ Bridge. This is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy, but it is also known as “Hadrian’s Mausoleum”, since it was created as a memorial complex after the death of Roman Emperor Hadrian.
During the Middle-ages and the Reinassance, the castle underwent many changes in its structure: it ceased to be a funeral monument and became first a fortification, then a prison, a noble residence and finally a museum. Saint Angel’s Castle hosts a 2000 years history inside his thick brown walls: it is really worth a visit when you are in Rome!
Castel del Monte – Apulia
Castel del Monte is a unique castle built in the 13th century by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, in the Apulia (now Puglia) region. When the Emperor had the castle built, he wanted to creat a symbol of his power, through the shape, layout and location of the building. However, it is perplexing that there is no draw bridge or a moat, which might mean the castle might not have been built for a defensive purpose after all.
Castel del Monte is a beautiful example of medieval architecture but it also contains several elements from different cultures: this is one of the reason why it was included as a UNESCO world heritage site and it is also depicted on the Italian 1 Euro cent coin. The castle continues to attract tourists from Italy and abroad and it still is a mystical and interesting place for scholars and locals.
Orsini-Odescalchi Castle – Lazio
The Orsini-Odescalchi Castle is located on the Bracciano lake, 20 miles from the city of Rome. This structure is one of the most beautiful castles in Europe, thanks to its elegant mansion and effective military architecture. The rooms are beautifully furnished and decorated with valuable paintings and frescoes.
Over the centuries, the Orsini-Odescalchi castle had been home to many well known guests like Charles VIII and Pope Sixtus VI and today it is home to a museum and is often used for weddings and receptions, like Tom Cruise’s wedding with Katy Holmes! Take a chance to visit the historical museum within the castle premises: opened in 1952 by Prince Livio Odescalchi IV, it hosts valuable artwork from the Middle Ages of over six centuries rule of Popes and Kings, like ancient weapons, furniture and paintings, books and manuscripts, frescoes and decorations.
Castel dell’Ovo – Campania
Castel Dell’Ovo, which means Egg-Castle in Italian, is the oldest castle in Naples, south of Italy. This majestic, beautiful castle was built on a tuff island during the ancient roman period and got its name from a legend. The legend says an egg was laid on the basement of the castle by the latin poet Virgilius and that the egg supports the whole structure and protects Naples. Should it break a series of cathastrophies would happen to the city and its inhabitants!
The Castel Dell’Ovo is one of the most reknown castles in Italy and it is full of history, from the ancient Roman times to the Angevin dinasty, to Frederick II, up to now: today the castle hosts meetings and VIP ceremonies. Tourists and locals can visit its two towers, called “Normandy” and “Maestra”, as well as the remains of the Church of Saint Salvatore, a gothic hall, an ogival shaped lodge, the Hall of the Columns, the monks’ cells, the prison of Queen Giovanna and a huge panoramic terrace, with spanish cannons pointing to the city.
Would you like to visit any of these castles in Italy? Would you like to know more about them and about the history of the beautiful cities that host them? Book a guided tour with Rome Private Guides: couple, friends and families will have the chance to customize their tour and get a memorable experience!