Italy is the land of castles. There was a time when gorgeous, stone-walled castelli were owned only by the wealthiest of Italian noble families. The wealthy Italians landed on high over their countryside kingdoms. Today, a few that survived have been transformed into hotels to suit every budget and taste level. From a crenelated fortress with sweeping hilltop views to a regal Baroque palace with an underground wine cellar, the hotels are unique in style. Here are the 5 best hotels in Italy which were once the sign of nobility and royalty.
Castello di Casole, d’Elsa, Tuscany
A lane flanked by cypress trees leads guests to this 10th-century castle turned boutique hotel. The hotel sets on 4,200 rolling acres of Tuscany countryside. Each of its 42 rooms receive clear weeping views. Many are housed in separate stone farmhouses, which fan out from the former stables. The houses feature original paintings and beamed ceilings. After a dip in the infinity pool, refresh yourself with a treatment in the wine cellar-turned spa. Enjoy a hearty dinner of Tuscan classics; potato and Tuscan cabbage ravioli stuffed with aged Stracchino cheese and partridge ragout. You can also try fillet of beef Tosca with foie gras and black truffle;paired with regional wines at restaurant Tosca.
Castel Monastero, Chianti, Tuscany
Castel Monastero was first built in the 11th century. The castle served as a monastery before it ever became a noble residence. Now it’s one of the best hotels in Italy. The property’s secluded location in the Chianti hills means all the more privacy for its guests. Honeymooners who come to kick back in its 74 rooms, de-stress at the full-service spa. You can take a dip in the two-tiered outdoor pool and play a round on the on-site tennis courts. Enjoy “pici” pasta and Chianina meat in La Cantina. This medieval wine cellar turned restaurant was overseen by Gordon Ramsay. This best hotel in Italy also offers guided bicycle tours and rentable vespas. You can visit nearby vineyards and villages like Val d’Orcia and Castelnuovo Berardenga.
Castello di Velona Resort, Montalcino, Tuscany
This former military fortification of Italy is now surrounded by peace. The castle was taken over by a noble family in the 15th century. They redecorated it with frescoes and expensive art and furniture. Today, the 12th-century watchtower stands like before and the main house turned into luxury hotel. The main loggia built during the Renaissance, houses its 46 guest rooms. The rooms are a combination of old “Castle” suites and newer “Sunset” suites. All the 46 rooms come with balconies or patios overlooking the Val d’Orcia. History aside, it’s the hot spring spa guests come here for. The spa features two mineral water-fed pools and a Turkish bath and sauna. The spa also offers a relaxing treatments that incorporate local grapes and olive oil. Follow it all up with a glass of Brunello di Montalcino, produced at the hotel’s own winery.
Castello di Guarene, Guarene, Cuneo
It may have been built on the site of a Middle Ages-era fortress. But Castello di Guarene looks anything but medieval. In the 18th century, nobleman Carlo Giacinto Roero transformed his future summer home into a baroque palace. The house has all high ceilings, stone walls, parquet floors, and chandeliers at every turn, where his ancestors lived until 2011. The 12 guest suites are equally lavish, with period furniture, silk and velvet tapestries. The windows with heavy drapes look out onto the property’s 18th-century-style gardens and distant Piedmontese hills. The restaurant serves local specialties like slow-cooked veal cheek and roast-filled egg pasta. There’s also a spa, wine cellar, and indoor pool built inside a rock cave.
Castello Bevilacqua, Bevilacqua, Verona
The approach to this restored 14th-century castle sets an impressive tone for the rest of your stay in Italy. A long pine tree-lined drive that winds its way past manicured gardens and sweeping lawns. The reception is marked by a glass chandelier, tassel curtains, and large oil paintings. In the upstairs, there are only seven individually styled suites. Each have their own antique furniture, armoires, timbered ceilings, and views of the hills. The medieval-looking restaurant is atmospheric, but not as much as the stone-walled wine cellar. The sommelier-led tastings include platters of local charcuterie and cheese and are served in candlelight.