I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal! So the nursery rhyme goes…How wonderfully regal it must be to own a castle and live like a king! Even better perhaps, is not owning one but going to stay in one and being treated like royalty.
We’ve pulled together a collection of Italian castles that may have lost their knights in shining armour but have been transformed into beautiful boutique hotels. Some of these magnificent castles have been handed down through the generations, besides which many are steeped in important and fascinating history. Read on to discover our selection of the best castle hotels in Italy.
Castello di Ugento
Why we love it: A stunning and authentic renovation with exceptional food and a one-of-a-kind culinary school. New boutique hotel opening.
The newest castle hotel in Italy is right down south in Puglia. This extensive restoration project started in 2013 and has transformed a 17th-century castle into the magnificent Castello di Ugento a luxury 9-room hotel and world-class cookery school. More than just a hotel, this chic retreat is a museum, culinary school and work of art.
Not only has the building itself and the 13th-century circular tower been restored but the interiors have been meticulously renovated including the stunning High Baroque frescoes which date back to 1694. During the restoration, the foundations of a Norman tower were unearthed, which hadn’t seen daylight for 900 years.
Now this castle, Castello di Ugento, is home to 9 spacious rooms and suites furnished with design pieces from Italy’s most famous design houses (think B&B Italia, Minotti and Cassina). Hard to beat on every level this contemporary boutique hotel in Puglia is set to be one of the best new hotel openings in 2019.
Why we love it: Great food & wine and an exceptional Manager, Juan Miquel who has been welcoming guests here since 2012.
Possibly one of the loveliest castle hotels in Italy, Banfi, near Montalcino, Tuscany, was founded in 1978 thanks to the will of the Italian-American brothers, John and Harry Mariani. Their goal was always to create a magnificent winery using the most innovative methods. Together with the Mariani family, Ezio Rivella, one of Italy’s foremost enologists, the property and the wine has developed enormously over the years producing wines of outstanding quality.
The Mariani family’s greatest wish is that this project will be ‘good for the people of Montalcino, good for Italy, good for America, good for all people who love fine wine.
The 14 individually-decorated rooms & suites have been designed by Italian stylist Federico Forquet and the Mariani family using Tuscan furniture and luxurious fabrics. Original features including terracotta floors, beamed ceilings and arches are lovely characteristics of this stunning castle hotel.
There are cooking classes throughout the year, truffle hunting in November/December and during the summer months there’s no better place to be than sitting by the outdoor heated pool with a glass of Banfi’s wine in hand.
If you’re planning a holiday in Tuscany with the family then Castello Banfi Il Borgo is a great choice as children are welcome free of charge up to 12 years old on a B&B basis.
Why we love it: Off the beaten track. Perfect for history lovers.
A stay at this castle hotel will give you a genuine taste of Umbrian history. Erection of a fort on this site dates back to the 9th-century and the current owners have lived at the castle since the early 1900’s. Castello di Petroia maintains its medieval atmosphere to this day. Built at the request of the Gubbio commune this castle hotel has a magnificent position overlooking the Chiascio River valley and you can spend a day meandering around the 800-acre estate and its footpaths. This rural retreat near Perugia won’t be for everyone as it’s off the tourist trail and doesn’t have many amenities however the 13 rooms are charming and each is individually decorated.
Why we love it: Steeped in medieval history. Foodie heaven, within easy reach of Parma.
Antico Borgo di Tabiano Castello was built on the ruins of a Roman settlement all the way back in the 11th-century and was a military stronghold of the Pallavicino family, one of the most powerful families of the medieval era. Tabiano is considered one of the most important defensive monuments of the feudal period in Upper Emilia.
In the 19th-century the castle was bought by Giacomo and Rosa Corazza, who invited famous artists and the best regional artisans to decorate the castle with stunning frescoes. Its eco-credentials are impressive too as Antico Borgo di Tabiano Castello makes great use of solar panels and wood-burning stoves, using sustainably sourced firewood.
You can choose from one of the 40 rooms, which are spread across the main house, the 13th-century guard tower, and three charming medieval houses.
Unsurprisingly the surrounding area is steeped in medieval history and you can visit some of the oldest churches and walled towns in Italy. However, we don’t blame you if you prefer to stay put and enjoy the wonders of this castle hotel with its two restaurants and wellness areas.
Why we love it: Home-grown olive oil and thermal spa.
Castello di Velona was built as a medieval fortress in the 11th-century located on a hill overlooking the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany. For many centuries the castle was left in ruins until 1997, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, it was transformed into a luxury castle hotel with thermal spa, winery and restaurant.
You can choose to stay in the original castle where the rooms still have the original features including vaulted ceilings and exposed wooden beams.
The spa is an oasis of relaxation and with two outdoor pools and two indoor pools as well as three restaurants to choose from Castello di Velona is a great all-rounder boutique hotel.
The surrounding countryside is rich in history and this castle hotel in Tuscany is only 15 minutes from Montalcino.
Why we love it: 2 star Michelin restaurant, Ayurvedic treatments
Compared to the ancient castles above in comparison, Villa Crespi has very little depth when it comes to history. The villa was commissioned in 1879 by a wealthy cotton merchant, Cristoforo Benigno Crespi who wanted to bring the charm of Baghdad back to his beloved Lake Orta. As a result, the interiors were inspired by Middle Eastern and Moorish architecture.
Sitting lakeside on Italy’s most romantic lake, Lake Orta, the hotel’s exceptional award-winning hospitality sees guests return year after year.
The restaurant at Villa Crespi has been awarded two Michelin stars and Chef Antonino himself is famous both for his exceptional cooking talent and for his appearance as a judge on Italy’s Masterchef. Head to the wellness centre to enjoy Ayurvedic treatments and massages to soothe and relax or sign up to one of the cooking experiences where you’ll learn the secrets behind the restaurant’s tantalising food.
Click here to read more about castle hotels in Italy as well as castle hotels in France.