Where have I been?
If you have been keeping up with my most recent blog posts or my Instagram posts/stories you will know that I am currently on a road with my boyfriend, Marko. I normally travel solo – this is my first trip with someone by my side. We have driven from Montenegro through Croatia and Slovenia and are currently living la bella vita as we travel around Italy. Now that I have some time to sit down and write, I will be sharing with you our journey, thoughts, stories and tips, along with our photography.
Castles in Italy
I am somewhat embarrassed to say, I knew nothing about any castles in Italy until I actually saw one and we asked our host about castles in the area. There are countless world-renowned attractions and sights in Italy, yet there are many places that aren’t well-known or even in guidebooks simply because there is so much to see! There is a large number of castles throughout Italy, I would like to share with you the first one I have ever visited as it is truly one of the most picturesque castles I have come across.
Castello di Miramare
What makes it special?
Sitting pretty on a rocky cliffside, Castello di Miramare is definitely the most uniquely positioned castle that I have come across. The castle has an epic panoramic view, intricately designed interiors created with the finest exotic materials (the furnishings on display are original) and an enchanting botanic park filled with plants from all over the world.
Castello di Miramare was built in 1860 for Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian and his wife Charlotte of Belgium. The castle was built according to the tastes of the Archduke, inspired by Austrian, German and English architecture. Legend has it that the position of the castle was chosen by the Archduke when he was caught in a storm in the Gulf and took shelter in the Grignano harbour, where the castle sits above today.
In 1867 Archduke Ferdinand Maximillian was executed at the age of 34 in Mexico. Reportedly, the Archduke intently supervised the creation of the entire Castle and its grounds and he never even saw the total completion (the complete interior design and gardens) himself due to his brief and tragically ending reign in Mexico. His embalmed body was once kept on display in Trieste and is now kept in a royal crypt in Vienna. After the Archduke’s death, his wife, Charlotte went back to her native Belgium and since then, the castle has been occupied for varying lengths of time by royalty and the military.
Today, you can explore the grounds of the castle and the insides of the castle and during the summer, musicals and concerts are held in the gardens.
Visiting Castello Di Miramare
The opening hours depend on the time of the year. It is free to explore the grounds of the castle but you must pay admission to enter the castle – the price depends on the time of year (there is also free admission for particular people eg. EU citizens under 18, EU citizens ages between 18-25) it is also free to visit for all on the first Sunday of each month.
For more information about visiting Castello Di Miramare, open this link to the official website. At the time of our visiting, it cost 2 Euros per hour to park outside the castle.
Other recommendations for nearby
Castello di Miramare is positioned in a wonderful place to explore both Italy and also Slovenia. I would highly recommend stopping and staying in the vicinity if you are doing a similar type of road trip to us or if you are after an experience that is actually popular with Italians themselves.
There is a lot to see in this region of Italy and Slovenia. We were both totally enamoured as soon as we crossed the border, by the plentiful bright green vegetation and the charming old villages sprawling with houses and churches incredibly well-preserved from a lifetime ago.
Traditional Slovenian Winery – The Best Wine and Liqueur I’ve ever tasted!
Our host introduced us to a dry red wine called Terran wine and liqueur from a Slovenian winery called Tourist farm Abram – Žerjal. This is the best wine and liqueur I’ve had in my life – the liquor is now my favourite of all time. The Terran wine is a sweet traditional Slovenian wine which is well known for its health promoting benefits (reportedly high in antioxidants and iron). It is popular to serve Terran along with a platter of cheeses and meats (especially Karst dried ham and prosciutto). We will probably visit again to pick up some bottles of wine and liqueur on our way back to Montenegro – I am not a big drinker at all (I rarely drink) so this says a lot.
Where to stay – highly, highly recommended!!!
We stayed in a village called Komen in a meticulously restored estate which was originally built in the 1800’s. This stay quickly became not just accommodation but a memorable experience created by a couple, Tsaja and Bojan, who totally embody the word ‘hospitality’. They shared their extensive knowledge of the area, along with personal stories. They treated us to foods and even tea that was grown with love in their own garden as well as a delicious platter of regional cheeses and meats – and of course, the Terran wine and liquor which I’ve already raved about. They made us feel like we were at home and in the end, it was very bittersweet to leave and continue on our journey.
I highly, highly recommend staying in this accommodation, Apartmaji Hedera because as I mentioned it isn’t just accommodation but an enriching, memorable experience.
Until the next post,