Most Fascinating Castles and Fortresses in Italy

One of the most appealing qualities of Italian architecture are its castles and fortresses, that come in various styles and flavors, which the public are welcomed to visit for the unique architecture and gorgeous scenery.

Castle-like fortresses consist of thick walls and towers. They can be found in historical centres or very suggestive villages where princesses, knights, and battles are remembered. I have compiled a list of a few of the most fascinating ones here.

Monteriggioni fortress, Tuscany

Thanks to its stature and majesty, the Monteriggioni fortress, in the Siena Province, is a tourist’s destination of choice. Nearly 70,000 visitors annually take in the well-known Tuscan castle, which makes itself visible in all of its majesty.

It is not a coincidence that one of the most prestigious visitors to come to the area and come from Florence, he was so impressed by the site that he had written a dedication in his most famous work to it. We’re talking about Dante, who was inspired by Monteriggioni for the giant structures in the abyss of Malebolge in Dante’s Inferno.

Rocca Calascio, Abruzzo

Within the boundaries of the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park, at 1460 meters, sits the Rocca di Calascio, one of Italy’s highest buildings. Sitting in the mountains, it overlooks the ancient village below, now uninhabited. Its charm is indisputable and has made it a perfect setting for several movies, including Ladyhawke and The Name of the Rose, but also the latest The American starring George Clooney.

Aragonese Castle, Ischia island, Amalfi coast

The tower stands on its own island and is connected by means of a brick bridge to the nearby, ancient Borgo di Celsa. The accessibility of the castle has been facilitated in part thanks to Alfonso V of Aragon who oversaw the building of a tunnel that provides access. But, prior to this time it could only be accessed by boat, this will change after the completion of a 400 meter long tunnel illuminated by high skylights which served at the time as a seal from which boiling oil, stones and other items were thrown at any enemies that neared. At this castle, in 1952, some scenes from The Crimson Pirate were filmed with Burt Lancaster.

Scaliger Castle, Garda Lake

It is one of the best-preserved and most complete castles in Italy. This castle, which is found in Sirmione, is a rare example of a lake-fortified structure. All sides of the castle are engulfed in Lake Garda’s waters. On one side of the castle there is the pier and on the other, the imposing keep with the cells reserved for prisoners. It has curving ramparts that meet at corner towers. Visitors are able to walk along the battlements and climb to the top of the towers. They are also able to enjoy the beauty of the deep-water port. The tragic legend of Ebeengardo states that his spirit will roam the castle’s chambers during a stormy night, searching for his lover Arice.

Castel del Monte, Puglia

Certainly among the most mysterious in Italy, it was built in the 13th century by Emperor Frederick II, near the town of Andria. The octagonal plan with octagonal turrets for each edge hints at Castel del Monte having been constructed according to mathematical-astronomical geometries, not to mention with many symbols in mind. In spite of its unique shape, which one could call the shape of a crown, the small building does not have a moat or other features appropriate to defensive military architecture. In addition, it has narrow spiral staircases that could be quite difficult for escape purposes, loopholes too narrow to throw an arrow through, and no stables.

The castles in the Niccone Valley, Umbria/Tuscany border

in the Niccone valley, located between Umbertide and Cortona, you will find the Niccone stream, a tributary of the Tiber that runs through Tuscany and Umbria. During the summer months, travellers from all over the world come to this long, wide, and quiet valley to enjoy their vacation. In the valley are castle peaks and some ‘borghi ‘, which are fortified villages. These structures prove the Papal States’ political and military tension over territory expansion.

On the northern side of this valley there is a castle on a peak in the Umbrian area of Italy. And at the far western edge of this wide valley you can find the so-called Castello di Pierle. Reaching the castle, I thought that the height was too great in proportion to the small hill it was located on. In and around the castle were an old church and a few modest houses inhabited by people who coexist with some domesticated animals.

The Lisciano Castle is the oldest castle in the valley, dating back to the 9th-10th century. Built in 1202 by the Marquises of Monte, the castle was taken over by Perugia before being granted to the papal government in 1479. Not much is left of the ruins of this castle since it was destroyed by the Marquises of Sorbello.


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