Italy is dotted with castles from north to south. Perched on top of hills or overlooking the waters of placid lakes, they’re often set in enchanting locations and make for especially romantic destinations. Some have been renovated and converted into fine historic residences, where you can spend a romantic night, transported back to the time when ladies and knights strolled the rooms of fortresses. Here’s a round-up of some of our favorites, which you can either visit for the day or stay overnight.

Gradara Castle - Marche

When it comes to romantic castles, the first that comes to mind is the Castle of Gradara, where the tragic love story of Paolo and Francesca, recounted by Dante in the Canto V of the Divine Comedy’s Inferno, took place. The castle is a 15th-century fortress built by the powerful Malatesta, built on a pre-existing medieval castle. It’s surrounded by a village encircled by walls and overviews the hills behind the resort town of Gabicce on the Adriatic coast, between the provinces of Pesaro-Urbino and Rimini.

Castle of Gradara Marche Italy

Castello di Monterone - Umbria

Set in the Umbrian countryside three kilometers from Perugia, with beautiful views of the city and surrounding valleys, Castello di Monterone is said to have belonged to the Order of the Templars. It is now a period residence with 18 rooms, each different from the other, with wrought iron beds and custom furniture made by Umbrian craftsmen. The castle includes a wellness area and an outdoor pool. It’s also possible to taste Umbrian cuisine in the castle’s restaurant.

Castle residence of Monterone in Umbria

[Photo credit: https://www.residenzedepoca.it]

Castel Toblino - Trentino

Castel Toblino Trentino Italy

Castel Toblino is a beautiful building dating back to the 12th century, overlooking the lake by the same name in Trentino, on a small peninsula protruding over the water, framed by woods and mountains. It’s located in the Valle dei Laghi (Valley of the Lakes), not far from Trento. In the past, Castel Toblino was owned by the vassals of the Prince Bishop of Trento, and it’s said to have been the setting of the sinful love relationship between the prince bishop of Trento Carlo Emaunele Madruzzo and Claudia Particella. Today it’s privately owned and houses a restaurant.

Castello di Razzano - Piedmont

Castle residence of Razzano Piedmont

[Photo credit: https://www.residenzedepoca.it]

Set in the hills of the beautiful Monferrato countryside in Piedmont, Castello di Razzano offers 14 comfortable suites, a large Italian-style garden, a swimming pool surrounded by vineyards and the possibility to rent mountain bikes to explore the territory. Sipping a glass of wine at sunset, admiring the hilly landscape, with the Monviso mountain in the distance, and vineyards all around, is a memory you’ll treasure for a long time.

Castello Orsini-Odescalchi - Lazio

Castle of Bracciano Lazio

Another beautiful romantic place is the Castello Orsini-Odescalchi, which overlooks Lake Bracciano and is also known as Castello di Bracciano. It is a massive pentagon-shaped building with five towers, built in the late 15th century, with a spectacular view of the lake. It’s often used for wedding ceremonies and banquets and also as a movie set (scenes from the Medici TV series were shot here). The Castle of Bracciano is still owned by the Odescalchi family and is managed by a foundation.

Castello di Meleto - Tuscany

Castle of Meleto in Chianti Tuscany

Castello di Meleto is located in the Tuscan countryside, just outside the picturesque village of Gaiole in Chianti. The original building dates back to the 11th century, while the current structure is from the 15th century. Disputed between Florence and Siena from the 14th to the 16th centuries, it was transformed into a residence in the 17th century. The view over the Chianti hills is enchanting. Today it houses an agriturismo and winery producing Chianti Classico and is ideal for a romantic escape.

Castello San Marco - Sicily

Castello San Marco relais in Sicily

[Photo credit: https://www.residenzedepoca.it]

The location of Castello San Marco Resort will take your breath away: in Calatabiano, on the east coast of Sicily, it is set between romantic Taormina and fiery Mount Etna, on the Taormina Riviera, near the sea. The Baroque property from the 17th century is now a four-star hotel with 27 rooms and suites, each with a small terrace, located in the park of the Castle; the property also includes a restaurant where to savor Mediterranean specialties.

Castello di Sirmione  - Lake Garda

Castle of Sirmione on Lake Garda in Italy

Another beautiful castle on the lake is Castello di Sirmione, on Lake Garda. It’s a medieval fortress from the Scaliger era, and also a point of access to the historic center of the ancient town of Sirmione. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries, it’s very well preserved. Its most distinctive trait is that it’s lapped on all sides by the waters of Lake Garda, creating a striking visual effect. Sirmione is the seat of an important thermal center, it’s therefore ideal for romantic walks by the lake followed by pampering in the spa.