Tuscany castles are among some of the most beautiful attractions to visit. Standing witnesses to the area’s history, many have retained their original shape, and some now play host to museums and wine estates, but all are still impressive visual reminders of a rich and fascinating Medieval past. Here you’ll find the top castles in Tuscany that can be visited.
8 Castles in Tuscany you shouldn’t miss
1. Poppi Castle. Symbol of the Casentino
When in comes to castles in Tuscany, Poppi Castle has to get first place. Why? While many other castles have been ruined by time or heavily restructured, Castello di Poppi has maintained its original structure, and looks every inch the Medieval castle. A fairytale structure with a crenellated tower, dominating the small town with its severe but handsome appearance.
Its first written mention was in 1170, and soon after the keep fell into the hands of the Conti (Earls) Guidi family, that controlled the entire Casentino area for over 300 years. You find the Castle in the highest part of the small town of Poppi, and it’s not only magnificent from the outside.
Once you step inside, a gorgeous stone staircase leads you to the upper floors. Inside the castle you can visit the Riliana library, the Chapel – frescoed by Taddeo Gaddi – the rooms dedicated to the famous Campaldino Battle (1289), and the prisons. Notice the numerous coats of arms of the families that have ruled the town throughout the centuries. (see more info on the FB official page).
Insider’s Tip => Just outside the castle you’ll notice a bronze bust of Dante Alighieri, the Medieval poet and author of The Divine Comedy. Why here? Because Dante spent some time as a guest of the Count Guidi after being exiled from his city, Florence.
2. Lari Castle and its dark history
Castello dei Vicari in Lari is an imposing castle that has been standing in its privileged position above the Arno Valley since early Medieval times. This impressive fortress is well worth a visit both for its historical significance, and for its commanding view of the countryside from the ramparts.
Its history has, as you’d expect from a good castle, a dark side. One example? It was seat of the Inquisition, where witch trials were once held. Today you can visit the eerie-looking prisons and learn about its history. The museum offers multimedia presentations and interesting explanations that even the kids can enjoy.
Where is Lari Castle? It’s 40 minute drive south of Pisa, not far from the coast.
3. Brolio Castle. Visit a splendid castle in the Chianti region
As you drive around in the Chianti, on the way to Gaiole, you find the imposing red brick structure of Brolio Castle emerging from the trees. All around it, an expanse of beautiful vineyards. The castle is private property of the Ricasoli family and unfortunately you can’t visit the interior. But you can buy a ticket to walk around the garden and take in the spectacular view of the estate from the ramparts.
Its origins date back to the Middle Ages, when it fell into the hands of the powerful Ricasoli family. Apart from a long history and an impressive wine making tradition (the Ricasoli started producing wine in the 11th century and are still going strong today), this local family has an impressive ghost too.
This is the so-called Barone di Ferro (‘Iron Baron’). Since his death in 1880, he has been seen at night, wrapped in a black coat, riding his horse in the countryside around the castle or making mischief in the kitchen. If you like a good ghost story, it’s a good reason to visit this splendid Neo-gothic castle and join a guided tour to learn all its stories.
At Brolio Castle, they also organise wine tasting and offer private visits of the castle => on this VIPs Private Tour you’ll be visiting the Antinory Winery and Brolio Castle.
Where is Brolio Castle? Just a 15 minute drive from Gaiole in Chianti, 25 kms. north of Siena.
4. Piagnaro Castle, Pontremoli. A remote castle with an extraordinary museum.
If you want to go off the beaten track and venture further than the average tourist in Tuscany, we have the perfect destination for you. The Piagnaro Castle in Pontremoli, at the heart of the ancient land that is the Lunigiana, in northern Tuscany (N.B.=> many local people have never ventured up there!).
This forbidding-looking Medieval fortress is set atop of a hill above the small town of Pontremoli. We are in one of Tuscany’s mountainous and lesser populated areas, and its charm resides precisely in its relative isolation and remoteness. This defensive structure, that dates back to 11th century, is home to an extraordinary museum: the Museo delle Stele. If you’re into history, this is definitely a castle to visit during your trip to Tuscany. “The Stele Statues are enigmatic stone sculptures dated between 4000 and 1000 BC and represent the most important collection of sculptures from prehistoric Europe” => See official site for more info.
=> Check out the Top 20 Experiences to have in Tuscany during your trip!
5. Malaspina Castle in Lunigiana. Ghostly encounters
Lunigiana is not called ‘the land of 100 castles’ for nothing. So, if you’ve decided to explore this remore part of northern Tuscany, you’re in for a treat. Malaspina Castle is one of the most impressive structures in the area, with its 14th century keep, mighty ramparts and massive walls equipped with bastions. It’s an amazing example of a fortified structure, where one can see how the architecture developed throughout the centuries.
Here they offer guided tours where you can visit the 18th century kitchen, the magnificent halls, and a very special room where the ghost of Bianca still hangs around at night. Bianca was the daughter of the Marquis, who fell in love with the wrong guy. For this reason, she was locked in a room and left to die.
You can also book a night at the Malaspina Castle for a full immersion experience in a truly unique setting.
Where is Malaspina Castle? It’s located in Fosdinovo, just above the town of Massa.
6. Fortezza Orsini in Sorano. A Medieval tufa wonder
Sorano is one of these places that are difficult to forget. This area in the Maremma is home to some amazing sights – the “tufa towns of Tuscany” – a triade of small towns that date back to Etruscan times. One of these, Sorano, is home to a 14th century fortress, that you enter/access through an impressive gate. Surely one of the top castles in Tuscany to visit.
Inside, you can visit various halls and galleries, some of which are underground (the castle goes 5 stories underground, as it has been literally excavated in the tufa rocks of the hill). The walkways are accessible with a guided tour. Part of the fortress hosts the Civic and Archeological Museum. A truly unique experience to travel back in time and discover the history of this fascinating part of southern Tuscany.
It’s mandatory to book a visit at these numbers: 0564/633767 (museum) or 388/572 48 61 (mobile phone).
7. Sarteano Castle. A military fortress near Siena
This handsome Castle of Sarteano is not as well known as it should be. This defensive structure is one of the finest examples of military fortresses in Tuscany. It was totally restructured at the end of the 15th century by the Republic of Siena to defend its territory.
Where is it? It’s located in one of Tuscany’s most beautiful areas, between Val d’Orcia and Val di Chiana. If you plan to explore this area, You can combine a visit to Montepulciano (half an hour away) – Exit: Chianciano Terme on the motorway A1.
For info and reservations contact the local tourist office: phone nr. +39 -0578-269204, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
8. Verrucole Fortress Archeopark. Relive the Middle Ages
A truly unique experience awaits you at the Verrucole Archeopark. Set in the verdant Garfagnana, atop a hill (get ready for a steep walk!), the Verrucole Fortress offers much more than an ordinary visit. Thanks to a team of young enthusiasts that organise guided tours in historic costumes, you can relive the Middle Ages and see what life was like in the 13th century in this part of the world.
It’s fun and informative, perfect for kids and curious adults. The setting is another reason to venture up here. You’ll find the fortress near the small town of San Romano in Garfagnana, located an hour north of Lucca. A perfect way to relax and enjoy the splendid unspoiled nature this region has to offer.
Booking a guided tour is mandatory – you can organise it via email or whatsapp => see the official site.