Italy is known for its vast natural beauty and well-preserved historical sights. Castles in Italy impress and amaze visitors looking for a beautiful piece of history with a unique story.
Visiting the castles of Italy will give you a look into the past while enjoying the views of some of the most incredible architecture in Europe. History fans and amateur photographers will find lots to love about Italian castles.
Here is a list of some of the most beautiful castles in Italy to include in your sightseeing when you visit this coastal European country.
Most Famous Castle in Italy
There are many ancient castles in Italy, but this one is believed to be the oldest. Built in the 2nd century as a mausoleum, Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome was the original crypt for Emperor Hadrian and his family.
Castel Sant’Angelo, or Castle of the Holy Angel, was changed from a mausoleum into a castle in the year 280. Located on the Tiber River, the Italian castle held a good position for strategic defense against attacks on the Ponte Sant’Angelo bridge.
When you visit the Castel Sant’Angelo, you will see an impressive display of art, history, and incredible architecture. This burial place turned fortress and eventual hideout for the pope offers loads to learn and experience.
You can see artifacts from Rome’s imperial, medieval, and renaissance periods at Castel Sant’Angelo, one of the most incredible castles in Italy. Stunning views of Rome and Saint Peter’s basilica and a fantastic museum will complete your trip to this historic castle.
This is one of the top things to do in Rome and it is recommended to get your ticket in advance.
Naples, Italy Castles
Naples is the third-largest city in Italy and the capital of Campania. With natural landmarks like Mount Vesuvius, there is plenty of beauty in and around this city. Several of the most beautiful and historic castles in Italy are found in Naples.
Aragonese Castle is one of the medieval Italian castles at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. Built on a large volcanic rock islet, Aragonese Castle was built in 474 BC by Hiero I of Syracuse.
Two large towers once stood over the castle, constructed to look for enemy fleets encroaching upon the islet. A stone causeway built in 1441 provides an entrance to the castle, replacing a wooden bridge to the island of Ischia.
Today, you can enjoy the incredible views from one of the most beautiful castles in Italy. Renovations throughout the last 100 years have restored the castle into a national monument.
Guided tours of the castle and islet will give you a first-hand look at life during medieval times. There are many other historical landmarks on the islet; several churches and an abbey still stand.
Located along the Gulf of Naples, Castel Dell’Ovo is one of the oldest castles in Italy. The castle’s name translates to egg castle and comes from a legend dating back to the middle ages.
It is believed that the Roman poet Virgil, a known sorcerer, placed a magical egg in the castle’s foundation. Virgil meant the egg to protect and defend the structure, but it would cause disastrous events for Naples if broken.
The castle was a royal residence for several kings and the state treasury and was eventually used as a prison. After years of extensive deterioration, the castle was restored to its current state in the 1970s.
Today you can visit one of the historic castles of Italy, Castel Dell’Ovo, for a breathtaking view of Mount Vesuvius. It is free to enter the castle, where you can admire its architecture and fortified stone walls.
Most of these castles are covered by the route of the hop-on-hop-off buses circling Naples.
In the middle of Naples stands Castel Nuovo, a medieval fortress and one of the most beautiful castles in Italy. Kings of Spain, Naples, and Aragon used Castel Nuovo as a royal seat as late as 1815.
Built in the 13th century, the Italian castle was commissioned by Charles I of Anjou. The castle’s walls feature historic frescoes preserved through time.
The castle is large and imposing, making it a popular tourist site to be seen in the city of Naples. Five large defense towers make up the structure, lending to its size. The entrance is made of white marble, which differs from the rest of the castle.
You can see the library of the Neapolitan Society of Homeland history, housed in the Castel Nuovo, one of the historic castles of Italy. A glass floor in the Armory room allows you to see Roman ruins that still exist under the castle.
Overlooking the city of Naples is Castel Sant’Elmo, one of the most beautiful and historic castles in Italy. Built in the 14th century, this castle is located on Vomero Hill, the highest point in Naples.
The castle was built in the same place that a chapel stood dedicated to Saint Erasmo, from which the name Elmo came. During the Revolution of 1799, the castle was seized and proclaimed the Neapolitan Republic.
Due to its higher location, the medieval castle was a great fortress used to protect the city of Naples. Like many Italian castles, Sant’Elmo was used as a prison. Its unique hexagonal shape draws tourists to visit.
Today the museum of the Twentieth Century, featuring modern art and sculptures, is housed within the castle’s walls. When you visit the Castel Sant’Elmo, take the funicular up the mountain to experience incredible views of the water as well as the city of Naples.
Built by William I, the son of the first monarch of the Kingdom of Naples, Castel Capuano is one of the castles in Italy worth visiting. The castle was named because it was located on the city wall where the road to Capua began.
Nearly as old as Castel Dell’Ovo, this Neopolitan castle has housed many kings and queens throughout history. Castel Capuano later became the Naples Hall of Justice, with a prison in its basement.
Today, the castle is home to municipal offices and is not open to the public. If you visit Naples, it is worth visiting to see the impressive exterior maintained through history, like many other Italian castles.
Rome, Italy Castles
Rome is the capital of Italy and is known for its culture and historical beauty. There are tons of things to do in Rome. With loads of classical architecture in and around the Eternal City, it’s no wonder it is home to several of the most impressive castles in Italy.
Castello Di Lunghezza
Amongst the most beautiful Italian castles is Castello Di Lunghezza, a structure built in 752 AD. It began as a monastery for Benedictine monks and was later transformed into a noble residence.
In 1881, Swedish doctor Axel Munthe transformed one of the castle’s wings into a convalescent clinic. Over time the castle experienced some deterioration, like many other castles in Italy.
Today, Castello Di Lunghezza, or the castle of length, features gardens and is maintained by Fantastic World of Fantastic, a themed park. The park surrounds the castle and is host to performances and events.
If you would like to visit the Castello Di Lunghezza, it is possible to do so through a guided tour.
Overlooking the volcanic Lake Bracciano, Orsini-Odescalchi castle is one of the most impressive castles in Italy. This castle has lots to see and do as a medieval fortress used for military purposes and later as a residence.
While there are many medieval Italian castles, this one is very well preserved. You can see rooms and artifacts historically accurate to the time this castle was inhabited.
The Orsini-Odescalchi castle has been owned and maintained by the same family for over 300 years. Today, the castle is accessible by taking a guided group or even a private tour if you wish.
Castello Di Giulio II
Named after Pope Giulio II, this castle features Renaissance military architecture. Built to guard the mouth of the Tiber River, Castello DI Guilio II is an example of the breathtaking history of Italian castles.
The castle of Pope Giulio II was used as a fortress in the 15th century, featuring typical rounded guard towers and high walls. Eventually, the castle was abandoned when the Tiber River flooded and changed course towards the castle.
Located nearby the castle is Ostia Antica, an archaeological site that is the location of ancient Rome’s harbor city. The site features impressive mosaics and frescoes and tells the story of Rome’s seaport.
You can visit Castello Di Giulio II on certain days of the week for a tour, and make sure not to miss Ostia Antica close by.
Other Castles in Italy
Outside of Rome and Naples, Italy, castles are scattered throughout the country. If you have the time, visiting some that are off the beaten path is well worth your while.
Located in Milan, Sforzcesco castle was built by the Duke of Milan in the 15th century. With frescoes adorning the castle painted by Leonardo di Vinci, Sforzcesco is one of the most beautiful castles in Italy.
Nicknamed Sforza castle, this magnificent structure was designed specifically for royalty. Eventually, like many Italian castles, it was used by the military for a while until being restored in the 19th century.
Today the castle is home to nine museums that include exhibitions on art and musical instruments, in addition to antiques. You can visit the museums and enjoy the many wonderful pieces for yourself. However, if you want to dive deep back to history, you will enjoy a guided tour experience.
With so much on offer, the Sforza Castle is one of the top things to do in Milan.
Borgo Castello, in Nocera Umbra, was built in the 13th century on a hilltop with views of the surrounding land. This was strategic in many castles of Italy to protect and keep a watch for incoming attacks.
The Mancini family owned the castle for several centuries and hid one of Pope Pius IX’s cardinals when he fled Rome. For their bravery, the family was granted a great reward and honor by the pope.
Today, the castle has been restored after an earthquake destroyed parts of the structure. You can visit the church on the ground that the pope consecrated. Weddings and special events are commonplace at Borgo Castle.
One of the most impressive castles in Italy, Fenis castle, was built in the Aosta Valley between the 13th and 15th centuries. A medieval fortress, unlike many others, this castle is nestled among a beautiful mountain backdrop.
Despite the castle’s appearance, it was never intended for military use. It has multiple towers and thick walls, reminiscent of Italian castles designed to be used as a fortress.
When you visit Fenis castle, you will see its incredible inner courtyard, featuring a picture-worthy stone staircase. The castle has been converted into a museum, and you can take a self-guided tour of the grounds.
Castel Del Monte
This octagonal-shaped structure is one of a kind for Italian castles. Built in the 13th century by Emperor Frederick II, Castel Del Monte is located in the southeast of Italy, in Apulia.
Castel Del Monte is small, unlike most Italian castles that are larger and more intimidating in stature. The design has led some to believe it may not have been intended as a castle but as a hunting lodge.
When you visit Castel Del Monte, you can enjoy beautiful countryside views from the top of the many towers. Surrounding the castle is the Andria wine region, where you will find plenty of places to taste local wines and enjoy a bite to eat. You can also take a guided tour of the castle to enjoy the landscape.
Located on Lake Garda in northern Italy, Scaligero castle is a medieval floating castle with a drawbridge entrance. Built in the early 13th century, this fortress was ruled by the Scaligero family of Verona.
Surrounding the castle is a moat, which was intended to help defend the castle from intruders. Tall watch towers throughout the castle, like many Italian castles, gave an eagle-eye view of the surrounding area.
Not many Italian castles are built on lakes, making Scaligero one of the more unique castles in Italy. It is also one of the best-preserved castles open to the public for visits.
To visit Scaligero castle, be prepared to walk a little, as the city center does not allow cars within its walls. The view of the castle and the surrounding Lake Garda is well worth the effort. A popular option after visiting the castle is to take a boat cruise of the beautiful Lake Garda.
Visconti castle is located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. This medieval castle was built by Galeazzo II Visconti, the Lord of Milan, in the 14th century and used by him and his son.
While frescoes once decorated the Italian castle’s walls today, little of them remain visible. You can see the remaining frescoes while taking a tour through the castle.
The Civics Museum of Pavia is housed within the castle walls today, with many exhibits to visit. In addition to visiting the castle, the 8th-century village surrounding the building is worth taking a stroll through.
Castello di Caccamo
On the island of Sicily, you will find Castello di Caccamo, one of the largest and best-preserved castles in Italy. Built on a cliff, Castello Caccamo overlooks the San Leonardo River Valley.
Initially built in the 12th century by Matthew Bonnellus, a wealthy Norman knight, the castle was modified in the 14th century. An earthquake in 1923 caused parts of the castle to collapse, leaving it needing renovation.
This Italian castle’s irregular floor plan and maze of rooms make it a unique castle to visit. Today you can see the courtyards and moat of the castle by taking a tour throughout the building.
Miramare castle was built in the 19th century along the Gulf of Trieste in northeastern Italy. Although it is much newer than most castles in Italy, its beauty is just as impressive.
The castle was built to house Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian and his wife around 1856, with impressive gardens and grounds. Austrian engineer Carl Junker designed the castle.
Unlike other Italian castles, Miramare castle is influenced by German and Austrian design. Today the original rooms of the castle are preserved for visitors to see what it looked like when occupied.
When you visit Miramare castle, you can enjoy the castle’s beauty and the surrounding grounds. A museum within the building provides information on the castle’s past inhabitants. Grab a skip-the-line ticket to discover this beautiful Italian castle.
Designed during the Italian Renaissance period, Buonconsiglio architecture is a beautiful example of castles in Italy. Originally a fortress, the castle was built along the city walls of Trento in northern Italy.
Over time, the castle has been enlarged and modified several times. Before becoming a national museum, the castle was also used as a military barracks and jail.
Today the Buonconsiglio castle is home to the Provincial Gallery of Art. When you visit, you will find many preserved gothic art frescoes within this Italian castle’s walls.
Tyrol castle was built between the 12th and 14th centuries on the border of Austria and Italy. With a breathtaking backdrop of the mountains in the Adige Valley, Tyrol castle is a sight to take in.
Though part of the castle collapsed into a gorge, it has since been restored in the early 1900s. Today you can visit to see the impressive frescoes that still exist on the castle walls.
Marble sculptures featuring folklore and religious themes are featured throughout the chapel of Tyrol castle. There is a museum housed within the castle, with historical artifacts, as well as a falconry.
When you visit Tyrol castle, you will be impressed with the sites and beauty of one of the most charming castles in Italy.
Castelvecchio, or “Old Castle”, is located in the city of Verona, in northern Italy. Known for its simple and non-decorative appearance, this castle was built in the mid-14th century as a fortress.
Like many castles in Italy, Castelvecchio features high towers throughout its structure as multiple lookouts. What makes this castle unique is its red bricks and many arches throughout, not commonly found in castles in Italy.
Now home to the Castelvecchio museum, this castle is known as the most important military structure during the Scaliger dynasty of the Middle Ages. If you visit the Castelvecchio museum, expect to see many paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages.
Discovering Famous Castles in Italy
There are plenty of reasons to visit the beautiful country of Italy. You can take in the incredible sights and enjoy fine wine and italian food while visiting the many castles of Italy.
Now that you have an idea of what’s on offer, it’s time to pack your bags and head to the many Italian castles waiting to be discovered. If you enjoy checking out castles, you will likely also love visiting the classy Italian palaces in Italy.