Tuscany is an enchanting place. Visitors fall under the spell of its gentle hills and charming towns. Many ancient fortifications, medieval towers and beautiful castles are testimony to the region’s eventful past. If you are looking for ideas on what to do in Tuscany, visiting its many castles is a great way to learn about its rich history.
No matter in what direction you drive or walk in Tuscany, you are bound to come across a castle. Dozens of them are scattered around the hills, some are reduced to ruins, others are well preserved and turned into luxurious hotels or homes, with a few owned by descendants of the noble families that built them centuries ago.
The Brolio castle is located in the spectacular Chianti area. Its origins go back as far as the days when the Germanic tribe of Langobards ruled in the area. In the 12 century, the powerful Ricasoli family moved in and today the castle still belongs to their descendants. Due to its strategic position between the Florentine and Sienese territories, the castle was involved in endless feuds. In the 15th century it was expanded and fortified with impressive defensive walls that are remain perfectly preserved today. The castle is surrounded by sprawling vineyards where an excellent Chianti has been made for many centuries. Although, it is a private property some parts including the ramparts and the chapel can be visited.
The magnificent Castello di Poppi, not far from Arezzo, was built in the 12 century and was used as a prototype for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Dante Alighieri stayed here a few times between 1307 and 1311 and it is believed he wrote some parts of his Divine Comedy here. Today the castle houses the town hall and is open for visitors to see its splendid frescoes and admire the views of of the Tuscan countryside from the bell tower.
The 12th century Castello di Fosdinovo, in the Lunigiana area of Tuscany, just like many centuries ago, still belongs to the marquises Torrigiani-Malaspina. Lovers of ghost stories are welcome to participate in nocturnal strolls around the castle in search of the spirit of Bianca Maria Aloisia. The local legend says that the young girl fell in love with a stable boy and refused to marry any noble suitors. Her parents, to avoid a scandal, ordered to close her alive in a wall in one the rooms. Some visitors say they have seen a beautiful girl with long hair floating around the castle.
Photos by: Giuseppe Moscato, Castello di Poppi, Emanuela Zibordi