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5 Great Castle Hotels in Italy

When we travel to Italy, we enjoy staying at B&Bs, agriturismo lodgings, or hotels, depending on the place. We’ve found that, for romance, historical interest, and that exciting feeling of traveling back in time, nothing beats staying inside an actual castle. Here are five of the places we’ve found over the years that offer just such an opportunity to become medieval castle dwellers.

1. Castello Vigoleno

Vigoleno, in Emilia Romagna to the west of Parma, is a stunningly beautiful small walled castle town. Today just five residents live there year-round. It’s free to enter the castle walls and stroll through the cobblestone streets; the town can be explored in about 15 minutes. For just a few euros you can climb the castle tower, visit a few rooms in the castle and see the ancient prisons. Inside the town wall is a small bar where you can sample the local wine, a restaurant outfitted with furniture and paintings from the castle, and of course the B&B where you can spend the night. Just outside the walls is the unpretentious but excellent mom-and-pop restaurant “La Vecchia Scuola”; eating here is like eating in your grandmother’s kitchen, if your grandmother is an excellent Italian cook. Rooms overlook the castle walls, and the four-poster beds are a nice touch. Rooms from 90€.

2. Castello Gargonza

The 13th century walled castle town of Gargonza is set deep in the woods in central Tuscany. It’s an incredibly romantic setting. Free wifi is available in the shared common space, which is in the same building breakfast is served. The shared space includes a lobby with comfortable couches and chairs, plus a beautiful outside garden with tables – a perfect place to enjoy a glass or two of wine before a nice walk. There is also a small store within the castle walls that sells locally made soaps, candles, olive oil, and crafts. The remoteness of the area means that at night, and early in the morning, there is total silence – except for the chirping of birds and the hooting of owls. Just outside the castle walls is an excellent restaurant that boasts amazing views over the valley; be sure to try the risotto of prosecco and strawberries if it’s in season. Rooms range from double rooms to full suites, and start at 120€.

3. Castello Quattro Torra

Quattro Torra (Four Towers) is a privately owned castle that is still the primary residence of the family who lives there. One of the towers has been turned into a lovely B&B. There are three rooms to rent; we recommend the Tower room, which is a sitting room and bedroom on the top two floors of the Tower. The bedroom offers incredible views out of the Tower windows, on a clear day you can see the medieval town of Siena. Be careful on foggy mornings; if you open the windows the fog will roll right into your bedroom and surround the bed with fog! It’s like sleeping in a cloud. There are no restaurants nearby within walking distance, but it’s just a short drive to Siena. Or better yet: shop in Siena for cheese, bread, salumi, fruit, wine, and chocolate, and have a picnic in the castle gardens surrounded by roses and olive trees. Breakfast is served in a communal room just a few steps down from the Tower. Rooms from 170€.

4. Castello di Rivalta

This charming hotel, Residenza Torre Di San Martino, is located within the walls of the Castle of Rivalta. Rooms are snug and cozy and the beds are very comfortable. The Castle is still occupied but large sections are open to the public for visiting. Best of all, one of the best restaurants in Emilia Romagna can be found here: Antica Locanda del Falco. There is an excellent alimentari (foodstuff store) attached to Del Falco; they will happily open it on request so you can buy local artisanal chocolate, cookies, oil, cheese and more. There are a few little stores (selling wine, oil, cheese, salumi, and crafts) within the castle walls, but they are only open on weekends and festivals. There is also a small wax museum here. In our opinion it’s worth it to stay at San Martino just to eat at Locanda del Falco. Rooms from 130€.

5. Castello di Montalto

Tucked away in the woods of southern Tuscany is the beautiful Castle of Montalto, which is still occupied by owners Diana and Giovanni, who rent many of the rooms and towers out to guests. In the summer they organize a weekly barbecue for guests. There is a swimming pool here as well. The grounds are extensive; one of the great pleasures here is to take long walks through the vineyards, the castle grounds, and the woods. In the winter, you may hear gunshots in the woods from the hunters who were going after rabbits and wild boar (which you might find on your plate later on). If you’re lucky (and polite) Diana might invite you up to her living room for tea or wine; it’s a stunning large drawing room with wood paneled ceilings, bayonets and crests decorating the walls, a grand fireplace – it feels like you are in a dream. The nearby town of Castelnuovo Berardenga has some great restaurants; or you can just stay in, stoke up a wood fire and fix yourself something in your private room. Rooms from 130€.


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We – Matt Walker and Zeneba Bowers – are the creators of, a travel consulting business. We craft personalized itineraries for travelers who want to avoid the typical tourist "checklist" locations in favor of more authentic and immersive experiences. Our Little Roads Europe Travel Guides are award-winning, small-town foodie guidebooks to Italy and Ireland. In these books we explore the breadbasket of Emilia-Romagna and the iconic cuisine of Tuscany; our guide to Ireland visits all of our “Little Roads” secrets of the Emerald Isle. We have just completed our fourth guidebook, available in Fall 2018: "Italy's Alpine Lakes: Small-town Itineraries for the Foodie Traveler". Our guides are about where we love to travel, but more importantly they illustrate how we travel. They are available in handy and beautiful color print versions, and also in Kindle format from Amazon. We have also written articles for various media outlets including Budget Travel and Gannett publications. We are classical musicians who perform in a symphony orchestra and in the Grammy-nominated ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, and we can be found on many recordings, both classical and popular. Off the stage, we travel as much as possible. We visit Europe 5-6 times a year, focusing most of our time on Italy and Ireland, with some excursions into England, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.We find places to visit based on intense scrutiny of detailed maps, exhaustive research, and experience of stumbling on these places ourselves, which itself is made possible by our style of travel. We wish to share with fellow travelers (and would-be travelers) the immense knowledge we have of very small towns that can’t be found in other literature or websites. We also share travel and packing and driving tips, and trip-planning ideas based on our many years of trial and error. We offer tips on how to get in and out of some of the major tourist sites (e.g. Cliffs of Moher, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Florence) with a minimum of stress and tourist hordes; and we also suggest alternatives that are equally gorgeous but less crowded. Come travel with us, and see how rewarding it is to visit Europe in Little Roads style...

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