Saturday, July 26, 2014

Living in a Castle in Italy: Proceno

Castello di Proceno  from the town hall
When  the sun burns down and the humidity levels rise,  the  naturally cool, dark interiors of a medieval castle offer  a welcome solace; thus July is  the perfect time to  visit friends who own castles and historic homes here in central Italy.

town hall entrance 

Last week after a stop to see the Archives in Acquapendente (more in a future post), we drove further along the Via Cassia  connecting  Rome to Siena and Florence to the  hilltop town of  Proceno which straddles  the border separating  Lazio  and the former Papal States from  Tuscany.

Nearby is the old  customs house  of Centeno (cento=100  miles from Rome ) where travelers including Galileo (in 1648) and  Nathaniel Hawthorne  (in 1845) underwent quarantine  and  had their bags  searched for anti-Papal literature.

At the hour of our arrival, Proceno was deserted except for  a butcher’s cat but the town hall -Palazzo Sforza - was open to the breezes and offered sweeping views over the  town’s cotto tile rooftops, the Paglia river  valley below  and the neighboring hilltowns of   Radicofani  (in Tuscany)  and Torre Alfina, famous  for  artiginal  gelato.  
the  formidable Town Hall,  Palazzo Sforza 

There was a distinct difference of temperature inside the Castello  thanks to the brick floors and thick walls. 

 We were welcomed by owners Giovanni and Cecilia Cecchini Bisoni,  and their two dogs. 

with Cecilia and Giovanni

the castle dogs are named after Roman gods

The entrance hall houses  an  antique  printing press  (torchio)  and many other interesting implements once  used in the Cecchini family’s printing business in Siena. 

Giovanni and Cecilia  open their castle to visitors who  stay in  comfortable self catered apartments,  take cooking classes and enjoy the area’s fine wines at the  castle’s Enoteca. 

The castle is also a resort,  for in the lower gardens  guests may  enjoy the  marvelous swimming pool and  restaurant serving top level cuisine and wines. 
cooking in the castle kitchen

Spring and summer bring visitors from around the world  who come to  enjoy the pleasures of living in a castle  plus  local people who come to enjoy the  well known  concert series. 

You can find out more about the area of Proceno, Onano and Centeno and it's remarkable Irish connections in my books about the area, which are available also at the Castello di Proceno. 

These wonderful places in central Italy are too special to keep secret, so share  your knowledge with friends  using the  Facebook and Twitter icons below. 
 Please leave a comment  below and let me know if you would like to join me in visiting other historic homes, castles and palazzi in central Italy. 
Other castles  we visit often are : this one in Mugnano, near Bomarzo and that of Vignanello.  


  1. I'm always ready for a castle visit with you, Mary Jane! Great post!

  2. The castle looks so charming! Living in a castle is an interesting thing to do for tourists or travelers visiting Italy. It's one way to experience the culture of Italy.


  3. Agnese wrote: I have been enjoying your blog, and of course your website too. The piece on Proceno was very good, and I have added that town to our list of places to visit in October of next year. looking forward to coming back to Italia. I truly LOVE to visit your blog, very informative and the pictures are BEAUTIFUL. My next step is planning hotels, B & B's,etc. Your website can help me with that. Thank you for such a delightful blog and MUCH info. !!
    Palazzo Chigi was beautiful !!