A Piece of Italy Near Home

By Kate Riley September 20, 2009

We took a weekend getaway to Napa over the Labor Day holiday. I’ve traveled to several different European countries and one of the best kept secrets about living in the Wine Country is how reminiscent it is of many of European regions I’ve visited like France and Italy. In winter, Napa’s hills are so green, it’s like Ireland and Northern France.  In summer, the dry hills, vineyards, and countless wineries of Napa remind one of southern France or Tuscany.

One such place that is sure to transport one to Italy is Castello di Amorosa in the Napa Valley.

castle from afar


I’m always a little apprehensive when touring what some consider out-of-place attractions, for fear that they’ll be touristy, but I didn’t get that feeling here.  This castle is an adult playground, and a guaranteed delight for any adventurous wannabe knight.

Dario Sattui spent over $30 million and 15 years constructing this medieval castle in Calistoga.  It was just completed last year.  He paid such close attention to detail, and was so focused on authenticity, that he hired masons to shape every stone by hand.  The stones, timbers, and doors are all imported from Italy.

Here’s a glimpse at this worthwhile stop, worthy of a movie set:


castle entrance


castle tower

Valley views

castillo di amorosa

castle tower valley view


castle fence

castle fences


castle drawbridge


castle tower corridor

castle corridor 2


castle doors entrance

castle doors

castle rear entrance

Great dining hall with inlay coffered ceiling and frescos

castle dining hall

mural room


castle courtyard entrance

castle courtyard

castle niche

castle well

castle trough


Tasting Room:

castle tasting room

castle wine storage

Castle friends:

castle friends

The corridors, hidden hallways, niches, and hideaways are too many to count.  There’s a dungeon and torture chamber on site as well.  The owner/builder/winemaker D. Sattui comes from a family of winemakers dating back to 1885.  At the castle, he specializes in Italian style wines, including pinot grigios and Tuscan blends.

If you’re ever in the Napa Valley, Castello di Amorosa is a great place to spend an afternoon adventuring, exploring, and sampling wines and chocolates.  And it was the perfect last stop on our weekend getaway.

More projects coming soon !

Happy blessed Sunday.


  1. Kate, thank you so much for taking us on this little tour. Now I know I need to convince T to travel to Cali wine country. :) Most of Western Europe ranks at the top of my travel favorites list, and your photos looked like they came straight out of one of my old scrapbooks. ;)

    The great dining hall is fabulous, and the tasting room reminded me a bit of the castle in Heidelberg. :)

    Fun post, my friend!

  2. We’ve been to Nappa many times, but we missed this one. Such a great place. It looks so interesting and the details of the castle are just wonderful. I’m sure you had a great time. Hugs, Marty

  3. oh my, what a gorgeous place. i must agree with you about the europeanesque feel of the place. i often daydream of my visits to switzerland, southern france, monaco and england … their architecture and pebbled stone walkways make you feel as though you are living in another lifetime. this place seems to grab that sense of richness. thanks for sharing and enlightening :)

    it’s on the “must go” list!

  4. Wow! I thought going on the tour of Hearst Castle in San Simeon was great. This looks like another one of those places that goes on the “definitely going there list”. I said I would love to
    see more places in that area and you delivered. Awesome pictures!

  5. I had no idea there was such a place. I can just imagine sitting in that courtyard, sipping wine and looking at the gorgeous flowers. You really did have the perfect getaway, and I’m glad you took your camera!

  6. thats where my husband and I went the day we got engaged! :) Wonderful memories there. Did you go down into the torture chamber?

  7. Seriously? This place is in Napa Valley? I wonder how far that is from me (I haven’t learned my distances in CA yet). I think I need to go on a bit of a weekend trip out there…

    I love your blog. I’m over from SITS — Happy SITS Day! (btw)
    And I’ve totally added your feed to my Google Reader. I will be back for sure!

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