Dating from the 13th century, located west from the city of Bari in the south east of the country is the medieval Castel Del Monte, meaning, 'Castle Of The Mountain'. Built under orders from Emperor Frederick II, the citadel has neither a moat nor a drawbridge with many describing it as the most fascinating castle built by the Emperor. As a unique piece of medieval military architecture made with such mathematical and astronomical precision, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
15. Castel Del Monte
First constructed in 1279 AD, destroyed and rebuilt almost exactly 200 years later in the city of Napoli is the Castel Nuovo, meaning 'New Castle'. The royal seat for the kings of Naples, Aragon and Spain until 1815 AD, the castle is a huge trapezoid shape defended by five cylindrical towers. One of the most notable features of the castle lies between the two western towers, where the imposing single sided white marble triumphal arch has been integrated into the gatehouse. Castle Nuovo's imposing size and scenic location has made it one of the main landmarks on Napoli.
14. Castel Nuovo
Built in the mid 14th century, north east from the capital, Rome, is the Rocca Albornoziana, a rectangular medieval fortress located at the top of the Sant'Elia Hill overlooking the city of Spoleto. Commissioned by Pope Innocent VI to strengthen the churches authority in central Italy, Rocca Albornoziana is the main bastion of those fortifications.
13. Rocca Albornoziana
Dating from the 13th century, in the north of the country on the southern shore of Lake Garda is the Scaligero Castle Of Sirmione, a rare example of medieval port fortification used by the Scaliger fleet. The main access point to the historical centre of Sirmione, Scaligero Castle is one of Italy's most complete and well preserved castles.
12. Castello Scaligero Di Sirmione
In the north east of the country, on the Gulf Of Trieste near to the city of Trieste close to the border with Slovenia is the Castle Miramare, a relatively modern 19th century structure. Built for the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian and his wife Charlotte Of Belgium, the castles grounds include an extensive cliff and seashore park, wonderfully positioned overlooking the blue waters of the Adriatic Sea.
11. Castello Di Miramare
Completed around 1376 AD in the northern city of Verona is Castelvecchio, meaning 'Old Castle', one of the most prominent examples of Gothic architecture of the age. Considered the most important military construction of the Scaliger dynasty that ruled the region through the Middle Ages, the walls of the castle along with the seven towers have remained in excellent condition throughout the centuries. The castle along with the Castelvecchio Bridge that extends behind it has become one of the most celebrated attractions in Verona.
First built throughout the 14th and 15th centuries in the city of Milan is the Sforza Castle, one of the largest structures of the Sforza dynasty. Renovated and enlarged, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was one of the largest citadels in Europe, until most of the outer fortifications were demolished during the period of Napoleonic rule in Milan. Today this giant fortress is open to the public, operating as a museum.
9. Castello Sforzesco
Built in 1830 AD, in the north west of the country located in a narrow gorge at the entrance to the stunning Aosta Valley is Bard Fort, a fortified complex built by the House Of Savoy. Situated on a rocky prominence above the town and commune of Bard, the current structure replaced a 10th century castle at the site that had been used to control the historic route between Italy and France. Completely restored in the early 21st century, the sprawling Bard Fort today houses the Museum Of The Alps.
8. Forte Di Bard
Dating from the 14th century, located between Bologna and Venice in the city of Ferrara is Este Castle, sometimes known as Castello Di San Michele, 'St. Michael's Castle'. Consisting of a large square block with four corner towers, this large Renaissance styled castle surrounded by a moat is one of the most dark and imposing fortress structures in Italy.
7. Castello Estense
East of Florence, just west from the border with San Marino is the 15th century Fortress Of San Leo, a later structure that was once fought over by the Byzantines, Goths, Franks and Lombards. Perched upon a rocky peak, visitors who approach from the Romagna Plain can see the fortress appear as a huge shield, sometimes compared to the bow of a ship with the bell tower appearing as a mast. Today this magnificently located castle houses a museum and an art gallery.
6. Forte Di San Leo
First built in the 12th century, in the far north of the country between the cities of Bolzano and Innsbruck close to the border with Austria is the Castel Tasso, known in English as 'Reifenstein Castle'. Modified in the 14th century, the castle is most famous for its interior, namely the Green Hall with its Gothic Paintings and woodcarvings from the period. Its classic castle shape sitting among the mountains and trees of South Tyrol has made it one of the countries most picturesque castle structures.
5. Castel Tasso
First constructed in the 13th century, in Trento, northern Italy, between Verona and Bolzano is Buonconsiglio Castle, a fortified series of buildings from different eras. Enclosed by a circle of walls in an elevated position above the town, the old Castelvecchio and the 16th century Renaissance styled Grand Palace make for a superb fortified structure surrounded by Alpine mountains.
4. Castello Del Buonconsiglio
First constructed at the end of 11th century, north from the city of Bolzano in Merano, close to the border with Austria is Tyrol Castle, the ancestral seat of the Counts Of Tyrol who gave their name to the entire region. Positioned on a rocky outcrop within beautiful natural surroundings, it remains one of the most wonderfully preserved medieval castles in Italy. Today Tyrol Castle houses the South Tyrolen Museum Of History.
3. Castel Tirolo
Completed in 139 AD in the capital, Rome, is the Castle Of The Holy Angel, sometimes known as the 'Mausoleum Of Hadrian', as it was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to be the burial chamber for him and his family. Throughout the centuries the building has been used by the Pope as a fortress, a castle, a prison and today a museum. At the time of its construction it was the tallest building in Rome, and from its peak some 48 metres (157 ft) above ground level it still offers fantastic views over the Italian capital. This towering cylindrical building along with the Ponte Sant'Angelo Bridge and the statues that adorn it make for a wonderful sight in the centre of Rome.
2. Castel Sant'Angelo
Built in the 13th century, overlooking Campo Tures commune in the far north of Italy is Tures Castle, known better by its German name, Burg Taufers. Standing on a prominent natural rock cliff in the Dolomite Mountains just south of the border with Austria, this wonderful medieval castle back dropped by forested slopes and the giant open valley makes for a picturesque fortress in even more picturesque natural surroundings.