Delicious Castles

Craving a destination with Old-World flavor? Once the strongholds of European nobles, these castles today cater to globe-hopping gourmands, serving up local cheeses, organic chocolates, wine and beer, and more, along with a hefty dose of history.

Prior to COVID-19, beer lovers were encouraged to pack their swimsuits before visiting Austria’s Starkenberg Castle. Its cellars contained literal beer-bathing pools, providing zythophiles with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to become truly one with their favorite beverage. (Bathers could even sip poolside pints mid-soak.) It’s unclear whether the Starkenberg beer pools have reopened, but visitors can still tour the 700-year-old castle’s historic brewery, play beer-themed trivia, and sample traditional Tyrolean foods at Starkenberg Castle’s in-house restaurant.

Italy’s Chianti Classico wine was invented in 1872 by Baron Bettino Ricasoli — a two-time Italian prime minister — on the grounds of his family’s ancestral Tuscan castle. Not only did Ricasoli’s signature blend go down in history (at least 80 percent sangiovese, blended with other grapes like canaiolo and colorino), but today Barone Ricasoli is considered to be one of Italy’s oldest wineries, its grounds having landed in the Ricasoli family’s possession as early as 1141. In addition to wine tastings, visitors can opt to tour Castello di Brolio’s grounds and peek inside its family chapel, the original wine cellars, and the label’s state-of the-art modern winemaking facilities among other areas.

Cheese worshippers, rejoice: Château de Villa in Sierre, Switzerland, refers to itself on its website as a “true temple of raclette.” Owned for centuries by local aristocrats, the alpine castle — constructed between the 16th and 17th centuries — is now home to a restaurant, food store, and wine shop, all dedicated to promoting Valais cuisine and drink. Patrons can purchase fine foods to go or sit down and stay for Château de Villa’s signature meal: raclette made from not one but five different regional cheeses. (For the uninitiated, raclette is a traditional Swiss dish of melted cheese scraped straight from the wheel; it’s typically paired with bread, pickled veggies, cured meat, and potatoes.)

Chateau De Villa

Stadtburg Andernach’s moat contains fruit trees instead of water. The 12th-century castle in Germany’s Rhine River Valley was erected by the Archbishop of Cologne and was ravaged centuries later by French troops during the Nine Years’ War. Today, the surrounding municipality of Andernach is a self-proclaimed “edible city,” and pedestrians are encouraged to pick and eat their fill from public gardens and orchards. These include Stadtburg Andernach’s
grounds, where vegetables, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers have reclaimed the fortification’s crumbling defenses


A trip to the Scottish Highlands wouldn’t be complete without sipping Scotch whisky in front of a roaring fire. Dornoch Castle passed through the hands of various bishops and earls and served as a courthouse, jail, schoolhouse, hunting club, and…

By Kirstin Fawcett


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