Castles and their stories pervade hilltop towns in Sicily. This castle pictured, Il Castello di Caccamo in Palermo Province, presents travelers an especially interesting glimpse into Europe’s medieval past. Scholars think the site has been home to some kind of fortress for millennia, meanwhile, this impenetrable iteration, the largest in Sicily, was built by the Normans in the 12th century. It has been expanded over the years, most notably by the powerful Chiaramonte family, in the 14th century. The last noble family to own it was the De Spuches.
A visit is a walk into the past of not only lords and ladies, but also how brutal battles can be–from the difficult ascent (heads up for the hot oil and fire arrows!) to the stark prison cells. Today, Caccamo’s castle is a museum owned by the region of Sicily. It possesses permanent collections of medieval fashion and weaponry and plays host to different community events. It also boasts some of the most breathtaking views of the Sicilian countryside and Madonie Mountains. My favorite feature is the trap door in a faux chapel–so be wary if your guide invites you to kneel and say a prayer before lunch in the trattoria downstairs–you may just end up on a bed of nails!