The Most Beautiful Castles in Italy

Castello Scaligero, Malcesine

Italian castles are a varied bunch, reflecting the country’s long and rich history. There’s a number of castles in Italy and many of them are made available to the community so that everyone can visit them and discover the history of these wonderful places full of stories and legends. Here’s a look at some of the different architectural styles you might encounter:

Medieval Castles:

These early castles were built for defense, pure and simple. They often have thick walls, few and small windows, and a central keep, which was the most defensible part of the castle. Some notable examples include:

• Castel del Monte: This octagonal castle was built by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its unique blend of Islamic and European architectural styles.

Castel del Monte, Puglia, Italy
Castel del Monte, Puglia

Sforza Castle: This massive castle was built in Milan in the 14th century by the Sforza family, who ruled Milan for many years. It’s now a popular tourist destination and houses several museums.

Castello Sforzesco, Milan, Italy
Castello Sforzesco, Milan

Castello Scaligero in Sirmione: built in the 14th cent., it is one of the most complete and best-preserved castles in Italy, as well as a rare example of a marine lake fortification. The castle is bathed on all sides by the waters of Lake Garda, and on one of these sides a dockyard was built, which was once the place of refuge for the Scaligera fleet.

Castello Scaligero, Sirmione, Italy
Castello Scaligero, Sirmione

Renaissance Castles:

As Italy entered the Renaissance period, castles began to take on a more decorative appearance. They often incorporated classical elements such as columns, arches, and sculptures. Some famous examples of Renaissance castles in Italy include:

Odescalchi Castle: This beautiful castle is located on Lake Bracciano, just north of Rome. It was built in the 15th century by the Orsini family and was later acquired by the Odescalchi family. The castle is surrounded by gardens and offers stunning views of the lake.

Odescalchi Castle, Lake Bracciano

The Buonconsiglio Castle is one of the best known buildings in Trento and one of the largest monumental complexes in Trentino-Alto Adige, thanks to its beauty and its history linked to the Council of Trent. Consisting of a series of buildings from different periods, the Magno Palazzo is the 16th-century extension in the forms of the Italian Renaissance, and holds an important Mannerist pictorial cycle in an excellent state of preservation.

Castello del Buonconsiglio, Trento
Buonconsiglio Castle, Trento

Other Styles:

There are many other styles of castles in Italy, reflecting the different regions and eras in which they were built. For example, there are many coastal castles in southern Italy that were built by the Normans in the 11th and 12th centuries. These castles are often smaller and simpler than the medieval castles of northern Italy.

No matter what style they are, Italian castles are all fascinating testaments to the country’s history and culture.

There are also many private castles, which can be enjoyed by families, but also made available to the public to create centres of cultural interest or delightful boutique hotels. One example is the enchanting castle of Tavoleto, in the Marche region, built by the Malatesta family in 1290 and now on the market. Click on this link to learn more.

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