Are you looking for the most famous castles in Italy, including fortresses across the country? This guide covers the most beautiful Italian castles and fortresses, taking you on an adventure throughout the country!
Did we miss any of the best Italy castles and fortresses below? Let us know in the comments!
Best Fortresses and Castles in Italy
1. Castello di Torrechiara (Langhirano, Parma)
The turreted and elegant 15th-century Torrechiara Castle is located near Langhirano in the province of Parma and rests on a terraced hill overlooking the valley of the Parma River in a strategic position.
It has four rectangular towers: Torre di San Nicomede, Torre del Giglio, Torre della Camera d’Oro, and Torre del Leone. A double line of fortified walls connects the towers.
Many rooms in the interior are decorated with a wealth of grotesque frescoes by Cesare Baglione, the most famous being the Camera d’Oro and the Salone dei Giocolieri.
The inner courtyard, Cortile d’onore, is embraced by the turreted merloned walls and overlooks the beautiful surroundings.
Address: Str. del Castello, 1, 43013 Torrechiara PRw
2. Castello Scaligero (Sirmione, Brescia)
The Scaligero Castle is a fortress from the Scaliger era surrounded on all sides by the waters of Lake Garda. One of the sides is a dock, where the fleet of the Scaliger dynasty sought refuge.
The fortress is characterized by its three massive main towers emerging from the imposing keep at about 47 meters high, and the walls interlinking them – which are highlighted by the signature Scaliger dovetail battlements.
You can enter the fortress from the village and ascend via a flight of 146 steps and reach the walkways of the walls and look over the dock and see the external moat flowing over the lake.
Address: P.za Castello, 34, 25019 Sirmione BS
3. Castello Estense (Ferrara)
The Castello Estense or Castello di San Michele is the iconic moated medieval castle in the center of the Renaissance city of Ferrara in the region of Emilia Romagna.
Its large block and four towers allow for panoramic views of the entire territory. At the level of the moat in the basement of the Leoni Tower were where prisoners were kept.
Some highlights of the castle include the frescoes of the Dual Chapel, the Dawn Room, the Games Room, the Game Hall, the Apartment of Patience, the Gallery antechamber, the Hall of Hector and Andromache, the Government Hall, the Hall of Devolution, the Hall of landscapes, the Hall of Coats of Arms, and the Hall of Commons.
Address: L.go Castello, 1, 44121 Ferrara FE
4. Castello di Fénis (Fénis, Aosta Valley)
Fénis Castle is a medieval castle located in the town of Fénis in the region of the Aosta Valley, which is approximately 13 km from the city of Aosta.
The three-floor castle is situated atop a small knoll and serves as a prestigious residence for the Challant family.
Fénis castle has a pentagonal layout and is surrounded by a double boundary with a series of watchtowers linking the battles by a walkway.
It has towers at its corners and an inner courtyard at the center of the keep. In the inner courtyard, there are wood balconies and a semi-circular stone staircase.
Address: Località Chez Sapin, 1, 11020 Fenis AO
5. Castel del Monte (Andria)
The 13th-century Castel del Monte is a citadel and castle located in Andria in the Apulia region of southeast Italy. The fortress is situated on a hill and was designed as an octagonal prism with an octagonal tower at each of its corners.
It has two floors, each with eight rooms, and each of the main rooms on both floors has vaulted ceilings. There is a courtyard at the center of the castle that is eight-sided, and of the corner towers, three of them contain a staircase.
There are two entrances into the castle, the main entrance which is an ornately decorated pediment featuring elements from classical design and Greco-Roman architecture, and a service entrance. It is an easy day trip from Trani.
Address: Contrada Castel del Monte Ex, Strada Statale 170, 76123 Andria BT
6. Castel Sant’Angelo (Rome)
Nearly two millennia old, Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is one of the many icons of Rome and towers in Parco Adriano.
The cylindrical building features two of the last angels made for the castle: the marble statue of San Michele Arcangelo by Raffaello da Montelupo and the bronze Angelo di Castello of archangel Michael located on the top of the castle.
The first level of the castle holds the mausoleum, the second holds the Hall of the Urns, the third floor holds the barracks and two courtyards, the fourth has the papal apartments, the fifth has the treasury and library, and finally, the uppermost level has the terrace.
Address: Lungotevere Castello, 50, 00193 Roma RM
7. Castello di Venere (Erice, Trapani)
Castello di Venere is a 12th-century Norman fortress built over an ancient Roman temple, or more precisely, an ancient Phoenician temple that was venerated by the Elymians and dedicated to the divine feminine.
Hence the name, the Castle of Venus, which stands at the southern-east corner of Mount Erice’s summit on an isolated cliff. At the sides of the fortress are the towers of the Balio Castle.
Castello di Venere currently has a stairway that connects to the summit, but it was once done so by a drawbridge. The facade of the castle faces west and its battlements depict that of Ghibelline merlons.
Address: Largo Castello, 91016 Erice TP
8. Castello Orsini-Odescalchi (Bracciano, Rome)
Located in Bracciano in the region of Lazio is Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, a 15th-century castle that is situated on the southern shore of Lake Bracciano. The castle functioned as both a civilian residence of the feudal lords of the time period and as a military defense structure.
It is one of the largest and best-maintained castles in the country and often hosts cultural events and high-profile weddings.
The iconic castle has richly frescoed ceilings and friezes, one of the most notable being the “Labors of Heracles,” as well as ceilings and richly colored tapestries.
The museum within the castle showcases artwork from the Middle Ages with ancient weapons, books, manuscripts, and paintings.
Address: Via Giulio Volpi, 12, 00062 Bracciano RM
9. Castello Ursino (Catania)
The 13th-century Castello Ursino, also known as Castello Svevo di Catania, is a castle in Catania, Sicily.
This royal castle served the Kingdom of Sicily, where it became the seat of the Sicilian Parliament and its role in the Sicilian Vespers rebellion.
The castle is shaped with a rectangular plan with an open-air inner courtyard and has a large circular tower at each of its corners. The Castello Ursino functions today as a museum and houses a wide array of historical artifacts and artwork from both the castle and the geographical area.
Inside, you can find items dating back to the Classical Era, showcasing the different influences that took place throughout Sicilian history.
Address: P.za Federico di Svevia, 21, 95121 Catania CT
10. Castel Nuovo (Naples)
Castel Nuovo, also called Maschio Angioino, is a medieval castle located in a scenic part of Central Naples. It is situated in front of Piazza Municipio and the city hall and is one of the main architectural landmarks of the city.
The facade of the castle greets you with an imposing single-sided white marble triumphal arch reaching a height of 35 meters tall.
Nestled between its two stacked arches are Corinthian columns with a center pediment featuring a shield with the lion symbols of Aragon.
Also ornating the facade are numerous statues. There are numerous entrances surrounding the castle, all of which are ornamented by frescoes or classical engravings.
Address: Via Vittorio Emanuele III, 80133 Napoli NA
11. Castello Aragonese (Ischia)
At the northern end of the Gulf of Naples near the eastern side of Ischia is Castello Aragonese.
The castle is situated on a volcanic rocky tidal island and connects to Ischia via a causeway measuring about 220 meters in length, known as Ischia Ponte.
The fortification rests on a 300,000-year-old islet that is a result of a synaptic eruption, thus the trachytic rock. It overlooks the sea from a height of 113 meters and covers nearly 50,000 square meters of territory.
To access the castle, there is a 400-meter tunnel dug into the rock with an illuminated path that winds uphill into the open air leading to the top of the island. It is one of the best day trips from Naples!
Address: Via Pontile, 3, 80077 Ischia NA
12. Castel dell’Ovo (Naples)
Castel dell’Ovo is a seafront castle located on the peninsula of Megaride in Naples. It is the oldest castle in the city, dating back to the 6th century BC when Greek colonists settled in the area.
Over the course of its history, it has been demolished and renovated until its current appearance was constructed during the Aragonese domination in the 15th century.
The castle’s plan is rectangular and covers to its widest at a length of 200 by 45 meters.
The high bastion overlooks the 100-meter-long causeway connected to the shore. Inside the castle walls are numerous buildings that are used for exhibitions and special events.
Address: Via Eldorado, 3, 80132 Napoli NA
13. Castello di Arechi (Salerno)
Arechi Castle is a medieval castle located in the region of Campania in Salerno. It is situated on top of a mountain at a height of about 300 meters above sea level and overlooks the city and the Gulf of Salerno.
The castle is heavily fortified, with a triangular defense system and a central section protected by towers that are connected by a crenelated wall. The area below the roof level is a lovely terrace with a view of the gulf.
Inside the Castle Museum are displays exhibiting excavations that had been carried out on the site, which include glass, metal objects, coins, and ceramics.
Address: Località Croce, 84125 Salerno SA
14. Castello di Gradara (Gradara, Pesaro, and Urbino)
The Gradara Castle is a medieval fortress dating back to the 12th century and is located in the town of Gradara in the region of Marche. Its complex rests on the top of a hill at about 142 meters above sea level and it dominates the entire valley.
It consists of a keep and a main tower, which rises to a height of 30 meters, and is protected by two imposing external walls that extend for nearly 800 meters.
From the main tower, you can see as far as the Adriatic Sea to the north and to the west, Mount Carpegna. Adjacent to the castle fortress is the historic village.
Address: Piazza V Novembre, 1, 61012 Gradara PU
15. Castello di Brolio (Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany)
The Castello di Brolio is a castle located in the rural landscapes and gardens of San Regolo in the region of Tuscany. The palace belonged to the Ricasoli family for almost 800 years.
The palace was rebuilt in the 1500s after a series of wars in the Gothic-revival style and rests on a pentagonal plinth. The stone palace and castle today are mainly known for wine tours and tastings.
Tour the castle complex and its own surrounding vineyards. Its vineyard estate happens to be one of the four oldest in the world and is of the most notable vine brands in Italy.
Address: Località Madonna a Brolio, 53013 Gaiole In Chianti SI
16. Castello Brown (Portofino, Genoa)
Located high above Portofino’s harbor is Castello Brown, a historic house museum that has been used for military defense for millennia. It dates all the way back to Roman times and has been featured in numerous battles throughout history.
Today, it is surrounded by a beautiful Mediterranean garden full of flowers that include rose gardens and pergolas.
Inside the castle, you’ll find several examples of master workmanship in marble and slate, in both the bas-reliefs and furnishings.
You’ll find Lombard-type cross vaults and medieval wooden coffered roofs painted with images of saints, martyrs, and rulers as you walk through the stunning castle.
Address: Via alla Penisola, 13, 16034 Portofino GE
17. Castello Malaspina (Fosdinovo, Massa-Carrara)
Castello Malaspina is the largest and best-preserved castle in the Lunigiana region in the Italian town of Fosdinovo.
The imposing sandstone rock fortress was constructed according to a quadrangular plan; it has a semicircular bastion, four round towers, and two internal courtyards – one of which is found in the center.
The central courtyard is elegantly designed with stone columns and a marble portal that lead to the ornate rooms of the castle. Additionally, above the roof are patrol walkways and hanging gardens.
You can book a night at the Castello Malaspina for a bed and breakfast and enjoy the enchanting views overlooking the village.
Address: Via del Forte, 15, 54100 Massa MS
18. Castello Sforzesco (Milan)
The Castello Sforzesco is Milan’s iconic medieval fortification. It was built in the 15th century by the Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, directly on top of the remnants of a 14th-century fortification.
It was renovated and enlarged soon after and thus became one of the largest citadels in Europe only a century or two later.
Today it houses several of the city’s museums and art collections, including the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, the Museum of Ancient Art, the Egyptian Museum, The Prehistoric Collections of the Archaeological Museum of Milan, the Museum of Musical Instruments, the Applied Arts Collection, and The Antique Furniture & Wooden Sculpture Museum.
Address: Piazza Castello, 20121 Milano MI
19. Castello Normanno-Svevo (Bari)
Castello Svevo is also known as the Swabian Castle or Houhenstaufen Castle and is located in the city of Bari, which is in Puglia.
It was built in the 12th century by King Roger II, a Norman king. Other than the northern side, which is bordered by the sea, the castle is surrounded by a moat on all sides. On the southern side is the gate.
The castle’s notable features include the main Hohenstaufen Tower and the Aragon walls. Today, the castle is used for a variety of exhibitions throughout the year.
Address: Piazza Federico II di Svevia, 70122 Bari BA
20. Castello di Sammezzano (Reggello, Florence)
The Castle of Sammezzano is a palazzo built in the Moorish Revival architectural style located in Tuscany in the hamlet of Leccio. Inside are 365 restored rooms, each designed in its own unique and individual Moorish decoration.
The Peacock Room is notable for its rainbow-tiered and layered wall and ceiling decor. Other rooms feature geometric carvings, particularly of stars.
The castle, unfortunately, has not been restored and taken care of for quite some time and is desperate for some attention and renovation.
However, the walk around the castle is lovely and the building itself depicts a gorgeous architectural style.
Address: Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 6, 50066 Leccio FI
21. Castelvecchio (Verona)
Castelvecchio is an important medieval military castle in Verona constructed by the Scaliger dynasty. There is not much decoration to the castle as its main purpose was to be powerful and compact in size.
The castle itself is a prominent example of Gothic architecture, with seven towers, four main buildings inside, and a maschio, or super-elevated keep.
It has a square compound built in red bricks and its imposing castle and bridge walls have M-shaped merlons running along them.
The dry ditch surrounding the castle was once filled with the waters of the Adige. Today, the castle is home to the Castelvecchio Museum.
Address: Corso Castelvecchio, 2, 37121 Verona VR
22. Castello di Ivrea (Ivrea, Turin)
Castello di Ivrea is located near the Cathedral in the upper part of the city. The castle was originally built for defensive purposes in the 14th century and its strategic position dominates the road leading to the Aosta Valley.
It was constructed according to a quadrangular plan that consisted of its iconic cylindrical towers that rise directly from the ground. The castle is three floors high and its rooms are spread over three sleeves.
Accessing the castle requires crossing the drawbridge over the moat and the walls are modeled with dovetail battlements. The internal courtyard has a well and icebox.
Address: Piazza Castello, 10, 10015 Ivrea TO
23. Castello di Lerici (Lerici, La Spezia)
Castello di Lerici is a medieval castle built with polygonal-based fortification and stands on the rocky promontory of the inlet of Lerici in Liguria.
The castle was initially constructed in 1152 but underwent numerous transformations throughout the course of its existence.
At the turn of the mid-16th century, the castle started to assume its current appearance. Castello di Lerici and the shape of its tower are both built entirely on pentagonal bases and an imposing curtain wall protects it externally.
The tower has a height of 29 meters. The chapel of Santa Anastasia inside is built in the Genoese Gothic style, which is characterized by cross vaults and black stone decoration with white marble.
Address: P.za S.Giorgio, 19032 Lerici SP
24. Castello di Vigoleno (Vernasca, Piacenza)
Castello di Vigoleno surrounds and defends the village of Vigoleno with its imposing crenelated walls which feature a panoramic patrol walkway and are dominated by the massive keep extended over four floors.
The three internal sides of the high quadrangular tower are surrounded by curtain walls. Overlooking the square is the sundial on the south side of a tower, bearing the date 1746.
The Red Room is a large hall located on the first floor and notable for its coffered ceiling. The Blue Room on the upper floor has a wealth of paintings and furnishings with a large Murano glass chandelier.
Address: P.za IV Novembre, 2, 29010 Vigoleno PC
Did we miss any of the best fortresses and castles in Italy? Let us know your favorite Italian castles in the comments!
More Italy Travel Guides
- Off the path places in Italy
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- Things to do in Naples
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she now splits her time between Frankfurt, Germany and Arctic Finland after also living in Norway, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. She has a passion for winter travel, as well as the Nordic countries, but you can also find her eating her way through Italy, perusing perfume stores in Paris, or taking road trips through the USA. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She co-authored Fodor’s Travel ‘Essential Norway’ and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.