Last updated on October 25th, 2023
Are you trying to decide which Italian castle to visit on your family trip to Italy?
Are you overwhelmed by the hundreds of castles you could add to your Italy itinerary?
I’ve been helping families visit Italy since 2004 and I now take my three small boys to explore castles on our travels in our home country of Italy.
Here’s my list of the best 10 Italian castles to visit with kids (plus which castles to avoid). Below the list, you’ll find a few tips for visiting Italian castles with children.
Good To Know: There’s a bonus (11th) castle that’s not currently open to the public, but hopefully will be in the future!
Have fun exploring!
This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase from the links, we may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Please see our Disclaimer for more information.
Map of the Best Castles to Visit in Italy with Kids
Castello di Brolio – The One Where Mom & Dad Taste Wine
Also Known As: Brolio Castle
Where: Chianti (Tuscany)
Why Visit: Kids can explore the grounds of the castle and afterward, mom and dad can taste wine at the Ricasoli winery next door (Baron Ricasoli created the recipe for Chianti wine!). Our kids love walking on the walls of the castle, walking down into the crypt, and looking at the marks from WWII bombardments.
Helpful Tip: If you want to visit the inside of the castle (including the armor collection), book a private tour. But it’s not necessary – you can still have a fantastic visit just by exploring the outer areas of the castle (which is still a residence!).
Good To Know: If you have a child who loves armor and you’ll be visiting Florence, be sure to visit the Stibbert Museum!
Where to Stay: You can stay on the Brolio grounds. Or, stay in a Chianti village. If you’re looking for a little more action, stay in Siena.
Where to Eat: There’s a restaurant on the grounds of the castle, but we like to bring a picnic to eat below the castle grounds (in the vineyard).
Website: Castello di Brolio
La Rocca di Dozza – Home of Fyrstan the Dragon
Also Known As: Sforza Castle, Rocca Malvezzi-Campeggi, and La Rocca Sforzesca
Where: Dozza (Emilia Romagna)
Why Visit: Most people stop in Dozza to see its colorful murals, but the village’s fortress is a must-see for kids! Inside, you’ll find two towers with viewpoints, weapons and armor, the prison, a kitchen from the 1500’s, and Fyrstan the dragon!
Helpful Tip: There’s a great playground just outside town – Parco Comunale della Mimosa.
Good To Know: In the prison, you can see the solitary confinement cell and carvings/graffiti made by the prisoners (it’s protected with plexiglass near the window).
Where to Eat: Enjoy a view of the castle from the terrace of La Scuderia. Sample Emilia Romagna classics like ragù alla bolognese and tortellini in brodo.
Website: La Rocca di Dozza
Castello di Scaligero – The Castle on the Water
Also Known As: Scaligero Castle, Scaliger Castle, Rocca Scaligera
Where: Sirmione (Lombardy)
Why Visit: Castello di Scaligero has a unique position, in the water of Lake Garda. Cross the bridge (where the drawbridge was) and climb to the top of the castle walls for spectacular views of Sirmione and Lake Garda. You can also see how the castle sits on the lake and the castle’s unique docks.
Helpful Tip: For a different perspective, take a boat tour of the lake to see the castle from the water.
Good To Know: Besides climbing up and checking out the views, there’s not much to see at the castle. But there are plenty of other things to do in Sirmione with your family.
Where to Stay: You can stay in Sirmione, but if you’re visiting Lake Garda with kids, there are so many family-friendly places to stay! While it’s not luxurious, kids (including ours) adore Camping Bella Italia in nearby Peschiera del Garda.
Where to Eat: Gather supplies at a grocery store (easiest to do before you arrive in town) and have a picnic in one of Sirmione’s parks or at the beach!
Website: Castello di Scaligero
Sigmundskron Castle – A Messner Mountain Museum
Also Known As: Firmian Castle, Castel Firmiano, MMM Firmian, Schloss Sigmundskron
Where: near Bolzano (Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol)
Why Visit: Famed Italian climber Reinhold Messner uses Sigmundskron castle as one of his six locations that make up the Messner Mountain Museum. Each location has a theme, and the castle’s theme is ‘Man’s Encounter with the Mountains.’ (Other location themes: Ice, Magic of the Mountains, Mountain People, Rock, Mountaineering). Kids love walking on the castle walls, checking out the art outside, and seeing the indoor exhibits.
Good To Know: Reinhold Messner was one of the first climbers to ascend all 14 of the world’s 8000+ meter peaks and he was the first to climb Everest without oxygen.
Where to Stay: Make your base in nearby Bolzano. Older kids and teens will enjoy staying in the elegant Castel Hörtenberg in Bolzano. City Chalet Family Bolzano is an apartment located in a green neighborhood of Bolzano. It’s perfect for families with younger kids – just a short walk to the large Talvera Park playgrounds and the city center.
Where to Eat: Eat at one of the wooden tables in the garden at nearby Restaurant Oberspeiser. Or trek (or shuttle) up to Castel d’Appiano for traditional Dolomites food with an out-of-this-world view.
Website: Sigmundskron Castle
Castello di Tornano – Spend the Night in a Castle
Also Known As: Castle of Tornano
Where: near Gaiole in Chianti (Tuscany)
Why Visit: Walk by real suits of armor on the way to your tower room. Swim in the moat pool. Explore the vineyards and forest – a playground for kids!
Helpful Tip: Don’t book an extended stay. The castle is remote so it’s best to stay for a night or two.
Good To Know: You can walk up the stairs to the top of the tower for amazing views and a sunset aperitivo.
Where to Stay: Sleep in the castle’s Rooftop Suite or Castle Suite, each suitable for families with up to 2 kids.
Where to Eat: Head to nearby Gaiole and dine at one of the restaurants in town. If you’re visiting with a baby, head to Castello di Spaltenna (just up the hill from Gaiole), for a Michelin-starred dinner.
Website: Castello di Tornano
Prösels Castle – Best for Imagining Castle Life
Also Known As: Castel Prösels, Schloss Prösels, Castello di Presule, Presule Castle
Why Visit: This 13th-century Gothic-style castle in the Dolomites has always been a favorite of my children. They love the guided tour of the castle and seeing the armor, the toilet, and the dungeon. The castle’s history includes witches – there were at least two witch trials that took place on the castle grounds.
Helpful Tip: There are quite a few kid-friendly hikes in the area. If your kids enjoy hiking, you can walk from here to Laghetto di Fie and finish with a skiwasser and a swim.
Where to Stay: Spend the night in Fiè allo Sciliar (aka Völs am Schlern) just down the road. Older kids will enjoy the pool and climbing gym at Romantik Hotel Turm, and families with smaller kids will appreciate the facilities at Residence Hubertus.
Where to Eat: We love eating at Pitschlmann in nearby Fiè. Dine on the terrace and let your kids play in the playground while you finish your meal.
Website: Prösels Castle
Churburg Castle – Best Castle to See Armor
Also Known As: Casel Coira
Where: near Schluderns (Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol)
Why Visit: The armor collection is one of the best in Italy! The castle also has the largest private armor collection in the world. The prison, frescoes and views are all memorable too.
Helpful Tip: If you’re in the area in August, try to time your visit with the local knight’s tournament – Giochi Medievali Alto Adige. Your kids can see musical performances by musicians in medieval costumes, watch jugglers, and see battling knights! There are also markets, parades, falcon shows, and more.
Good To Know: You can only visit the castle on a guided tour.
Good To Know: Mom and Dad can sample the region’s refreshing Hugo Spritz where it was created, in nearby Naturns.
Good To Know: The castle is on one of the area’s family-friendly bike routes.
Where to Stay: Spend a night (or three) in the adorable village next door, Glorenza (aka Glurns). Garni Glurnserhof is family-run, cozy, and welcoming.
Where to Eat: Grab picnic supplies at the grocery store (DeSpar) and have a picnic on the Adige River in the northern part of Schluderns. There’s also a small kid’s playground with picnic tables.
Website: Churburg Castle
Rocchetta Mattei – Be a Part of a Fairy Tale
Where: Riola (Emilia Romagna)
Why Visit: The castle in the hills near Bologna has a Moorish influence, so it has a completely different feel from other Italian castles. Kids love checking out the unique architecture and art and walking on the castle’s paths and stairways.
Helpful Tip: Book your visit as soon as you can. The visits often sell out.
Good To Know: You can only visit the castle on a guided tour. The tour is in Italian, but you can get an English audioguide to listen to. The history and facts about the castle are more interesting for older kids.
Where to Stay: Rocca Mattei is between Bologna and Florence, and either city would make a great base for a visit. Check out our post – Where to Stay in Florence.
Website: Rocchetta Mattei
You may want to read about
Florence with Kids
Castello di Reschio – A Luxurious, Authentic Umbrian Sojourn
Also Known As: Reschio Castle
Where: near Perugia (Umbria)
Why Visit: Spend a night or a week in this thoughtfully-renovated castle hotel. Swim, explore the grounds, take a cooking class, learn how to forage for herbs, go horseback riding, and make friends with the resident dogs. This is a bucket list hotel.
Good To Know: This property is best for older kids and teens.
Helpful Tip: Get a feel for Reschio’s daily life through its gorgeous and interesting Instagram photos (@reschio).
Where to Eat: Dine in one of the hotel’s two restaurants.
Website: Reschio Castle
Donnafugata Castle – Something for Everyone in Your Family
Also Known As: Castello di Donnafugata
Where: near Ragusa (Sicily)
Why Visit: The castle grounds have something for everyone in your family, including the castle with its original furniture, a costume (clothing) museum, and a gorgeous garden (with a stone labyrinth!).
Helpful Tip: It’s easy to combine a visit to Donnafugata with the Val di Noto towns of Ragusa, Scicli and Modica.
Where to Stay: Spend the night in nearby Villa Zottopera (and sample their divine olive oil)
Where to Eat: You can bring your own picnic supplies or dine at one of the two restaurants on the property (one is a pizzeria).
Website: Donnafugata Castle
Castello di Sammezzano – One to Keep on Your Radar
Please Note: Castello di Sammezzano is permanently closed, but hopefully the historic property will be renovated and reopened in the future. I’m listing is here so you’re aware of it and you can check in and see if it eventually opens.
Where: Reggello (Tuscany)
Why Visit: The Moorish castle is one-of-a-kind, and you may recognize photos of its rainbow-colored peacock room. According to the website, while walking through the castle, you go on a virtual journey from China to the Arabian Peninsula to Spain. The photos of the rooms are mesmerizing – I can’t imagine what it’s like in person. Unfortunately, the castle is in a state of disrepair and is in urgent need of maintenance.
The grounds of the castle include a 65-hectare park that included many rare and exotic plants. You’ll definitely recognize the few giant sequoias. While you can explore some of the park, it’s not maintained, so it’s best to wait until the castle reopens (fingers crossed!).
Good To Know: In the past, the castle has opened up for brief (2-day) periods to a very limited number of guests (safety issues, no facilities). Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this will happen again anytime soon.
Good To Know: It’s right next door to Tuscany’s popular luxury outlet mall – The Mall.
Italian Castles Not Worth Visiting with Kids
- Luxurious hotel castles that make you feel like you need to constantly ‘shush’ your child. Don’t get me wrong – I love Castel Fragsburg in the Dolomites and Castello di Velona in Southern Tuscany. But, they’re not the best places for kids to run around and explore. If you’re in doubt, call the hotel and ask! They’ll be honest or let you know if there are activities or special areas for kids on the property.
- Any castle you can only look at from the outside or see from a distance. Kids want to get up close and see the details of the castle. And, they love climbing towers, walking on the tops of the walls, seeing armor and furniture and other aspects of daily life in a castle.
Tips for Visiting Castles in Italy with Kids
- Call or email ahead. And reconfirm before you arrive.
- Bring a baby carrier (instead of a stroller).
- Stay close to your children and be ready to deal with obstacles like dangerous drop offs, holes, stairs without railings, etc. Castles here aren’t equipped with tons of safety measures so you’ll need to watch your children carefully. This isn’t meant to scare you, but it’s not like in the United States where everything is set up to avoid injuries (and lawsuits).
- Have cash handy, especially for smaller castles. You may need to pay for the entrance with cash and your kids may want a merenda at the on-site bar.
- Prep a little before the visit. It will make the visit more meaningful if you and your kids know what you’re looking for/at.
- Bring a snack. Even if there’s a café on the property, it may be closed. And it’s not fun to tour a castle with a hangry kid (or adult).
- Use the audio guide or take a guided tour.
- Help your kids imagine life at the castle as a resident or a defender. Ask questions, point things out. Bring the castle to life!