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A land of rolling green hills, lush vineyards and rich cultural history, the Tuscany region has long attracted visitors from all over the world. As the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, its cities, such as Florence and Pisa, are filled with architectural wonders like soaring towers, ornate palaces, and grand cathedrals. Renowned art museums, opera houses, and beautiful plazas and gardens are just some of the cultural offerings available in the ancient city streets. However, most visitors come to see the historic towns and villages scattered throughout the countryside.
With a strong regional identity and traditions revolving around the importance of good food and excellent wine, the relaxed pace of life continues to be a drawcard for travelers. For those looking for a touch of romanticism and grandeur during an idyllic Tuscan vacation, medieval castles and fortresses perched upon scenic hilltops have been converted to boutique hotels and spa retreats and offer luxurious environments from which to enjoy the surrounding attractions. Here, we take you on a tour of our favorite castle hotels in Tuscany.
Best Overall: Belmond Castello di Casole
With the original castle compound dating back to the 10th century, Castello di Casole is one of Italy’s oldest castles and has been built upon over the years into the luxury boutique hotel it is today. Stylish suites meld modern and traditional elements with lavish but tasteful décor, including plush velvet couches, carved wooden closets, and marble bathrooms. The Essere Spa uses exposed stone arches and marble furnishings to create a historic and elegant ambiance and offers Tuscan massages, honey and sea-salt scrubs, and other signature treatments. The Tosca restaurant showcases regional specialties paired with rich wines and hosts a varying six-course fine dining experience. The marble and frescoed bar is a relaxed spot to drink premium wines and spirits while gazing over the two-tiered infinity pool and wooded countryside. The hotel holds cooking, yoga, and watercolor classes, and other activities such as biking, horseback riding, and truffle-hunting immerse guests in the fields and forests around the hotel.
Best Budget: Castello Ripa d'Orcia
Set on an isolated hilltop overlooking vineyards, forests, and rivers, Castello Ripa d'Orcia is a small, family-run organic estate located in a remote corner of the Tuscan countryside. Comfortable apartments come with kitchens, private bathrooms, stone fireplaces, and a balcony or terrace, while B&B-style rooms come with en-suite bathrooms and either valley or castle views.
Owned by the same family for over 500 years, the connection with the land is apparent in the quality of the wines, olive oils, and other fare served in the restaurant — all of which is produced on-site using traditional techniques. With buildings dating back hundreds of years, the place exudes rustic charm, which is only enhanced by the warm family vibe, lack of pretension, and minimal renovations. Some welcome additions include the pool terrace, which contains an infinity pool and several sun lounges with views over the neighboring valley, and the free Wi-FI that is available throughout the hotel.
Best Boutique: Castello Banfi Il Borgo
Situated at the end of a cypress-lined driveway and with marvelous views over the estate vineyards and olive groves, Castello Banfi Il Borgo is a medieval castle and hamlet restored into a boutique hotel full of Tuscan charm. Spacious guest rooms feature traditional decor, soft comfy furniture, and large bathrooms with walk-in rainfall showers. Guests can join in cooking classes, private tours of the vineyards and wine cellars, horseback rides and art classes during their stay. Ayurvedic, holistic and sports massages are provided in the massage pavilion.
When it comes to dining, the La Sala marble Grappoli restaurant serves seasonal dishes in a charming room lined with grapevine prints, on a fountained terrace, or under the shade of a leafy trellis surrounded by white roses. Wine tastings are held in the Enoteca Alle Mura, which houses a varied selection of estate wines set upon carved oak cabinets and tables, and offers local artisanal olive oils, sheep cheeses, and home-cured prosciutto.
Best for Families: Castello di Spaltenna Resort & Spa
Easily accessible from the city of Florence, Castello di Spaltenna Resort & Spa is a large, 10th-century stone monastery converted into a relaxed and peaceful spa resort. Children of any age are welcome at the hotel, with children under six staying for free. The large family suite is full of authentic rustic charm but comes with modern comforts such as a Jacuzzi bathtub, LCD TV, and air-conditioning. The heated indoor pool is the only one in the Chianti region, meaning kids can have fun even when not swimming in the scenic outdoor pool. Parents can relax in the Turkish baths and saunas of the La Pieve Spa while kids wander the spacious hotel grounds. There is a tennis court available, and activities such as horseback tours and guided hikes allow guests to explore the surrounding region. Lunch at La Terrazza means light local cuisine with wine pairings on the grassy outdoor terrace, and ancient recipes are given a fresh, modern touch in the Michelin-starred Il Pievano restaurant.
Best for Romance: Castel Monastero
In an area of peaceful countryside surrounded by open fields and leafy forests, Castel Monastero offers a secluded and romantic retreat in the heart of Tuscany. Rooms and suites are comfortably furnished in a style that smoothly combines local and modern influences, with exposed, rough-hewn ceiling beams and evocative landscape murals adorning the walls. Stone-lined Tuscan villas are home to the spa, which offers specialist couples therapies such as Berber massages and Damascus Rose skin renewals.
The Contrada restaurant serves classic Tuscan cuisine in intimate dining lounges, while the Gordon Ramsay signature restaurant reinvents Tuscan recipes with innovative new ideas and flavors. Downstairs, candles light the curving stone arches and oak barrel tables of La Cantina, which serves light meals paired with regional wines in the restored cellar. There is also a well-equipped gym on a scenic open-air terrace, basalt-lined infinity pools surrounded by lawns strewn with sun lounges, and tennis courts. Guests can join in wine tastings, cookery classes or guided tours of the estate.
Best for Luxury: Castello del Nero
Located a short distance from the museums and palaces of Florence, the pale pink walls and terracotta roof of Castello del Nero epitomize classical Tuscan architectural design. Guests rooms all feature unique décor and have been meticulously restored to enhance their atmospheric appeal. Rooms range from snug open-plan lofts to luxurious suites with marble-lined fireplaces and ornate 18th-century frescos. The Michelin-starred La Torre restaurant offers a varied seasonal menu, with local delicacies such as truffles, wild boar, and land snails complementing fresh seafood and the herbs picked directly from the hotel gardens. Guests can dine on an alfresco terrace or in the sophisticated dining room next to a blazing fireplace. The Bar is a cavernous space full of antique wooden beams and stuffed leather settees and has an impressive selection of wines stored in the nearby cellar. The ESPA offers Signature treatments using olive oil and lavender, as well as algae and mud wraps, aromatherapy, and hot stone massages.
Best Spa: Castello di Velona
Dating back to the 11th century, the watchtower fortress of Castello di Velona has seen myriad uses before being renovated into the luxury spa experience of its current form. Perched on a hilltop above the Val d’Orcia, the castle offers excellent views from its terraces and towers. Cozy guest rooms feature marble bathrooms, fireplaces, and views over nearby vineyards, and the rustic Il Brunello and modern Settimo Senso restaurants serve regional food and wines. But the highlight of the property is the indulgent Olispa which offers Turkish baths, saunas, and private treatment cabins in a beautiful space lined with local Travertine marble. Treatments include body and face massages and body scrubs and utilize grapes, olive oils, and other local products to create soothing and invigorating experiences. In addition, two large mineral-water pools are situated on an elevated outdoor terrace, where guests can take in the views while relaxing in the warm waters or on the nearby sun lounges.
Best for Foodies: Castello di Vicarello
Set in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, Castello di Vicarello makes local foods, wines, and flavors the focus of the hotel experience. The heart and soul of the building is the medieval kitchen, with a curving roof, flagstone floor, and herbs, hams, and spices hanging from the ceiling. On antique wooden tables and using quaint copper cookware, guests are taught how to prepare authentic Tuscan cuisine using seasonal ingredients sourced from the estate and from foraging trips into the surrounding woodlands. The kitchen also plays host to tastings of the exclusive estate wines, which are held out among the vines on warm sunny days. Dinner is held on a scenic grass terrace or in shady groves of cypress trees lit by candlelight. Guest rooms are full of rustic character, with hand-carved wooden furnishings, copper bathtubs, and stone fireplaces. There are also two infinity pools, a wellness spa, and a yoga studio, all commanding excellent views over vineyards and olive groves.
Best View: Castello La
Set at the end of a gravel road atop a gently sloping hill, the restored castle complex of Castello La Leccia offers spectacular views over steep forested hills, valleys, and ancient hamlets. From the panoramic outdoor pool terrace, guests can gaze over verdant vineyards and fields ablaze with wildflower blossoms. In the evenings, the sparkling lights of Siena on the horizon complement the star-strewn night skies. Guests can also enjoy the view while strolling through beautifully landscaped gardens full of lavender shrubs and mature oak trees, or from the stone-flagged dining terrace.
The castle's traditional stone exterior belies its modern interior, which offers bright, airy rooms in soft pastel shades while still retaining classical Tuscan elements such as hardwood floors, exposed ceiling beams, and four-poster beds. The deluxe rooms retain the most local flavor and offer the best views over the surrounding countryside. All meals are prepared using fresh local ingredients, including wines and olive oils produced from their own organic farmlands.