Imagine a beautiful walk down the coast of the Gulf of Genoa, part of the Italian Riviera having a chocolate gelato, and heading up to take siesta in your castle overlooking the sea.
You can stay in a castle in Italy for about 15 euros a night.
In western europe, that’s a decent hostel price, but a castle? Unbelievable! But it’s real… promise.
I found Vuillermin Castle Hostel on a Google search of most unique hostels in the world. It was in a commune called Finale Ligure in Liguria that I had never heard of. Google images looked nice enough, and my travel partner and I were off to be princesses.
Beautiful Amanda at the top of the stairs leading toward the castle
The place was no joke! Pro: It is a castle turned hotel but still looks authentic with old castle walls. Con: You do have to walk up a MILLION tiny stone stairs to get to the doors. Little did we know, we were about to find out just how good they were at keeping trespassers out of this fortress.
inside the courtyard
this is why the castle price is low: dorm style rooms. luckily, no other girls were there at the time!
Mission Impossible: Castle Break-in
The castle had a curfew we didn’t take seriously enough while we were out skinny-dipping. When we came back with some silly British boys who were also staying there it was locked. How dare they do what they said they would! Outraged and wasted, we created a Mission Impossible: Castle Break-in. After a serious 2 minutes of planning, we were on our way climbing to the only windows we could find. They were on the top towers, the ones that Rapunzel would have flipped her hair out.
Being the smallest, I was pushed up first onto the perimeter wall only to find out those Italians were intense back in the day! There were shards of glass cemented into the wall cutting and scraping as I put my weight down on them. I warned the other drunks, but they assured me they weren’t afraid of pain. We may or may not have stolen some seat cushions to soften the blow.
An eternity later, we made it to the top of the tower, where with our luck obviously the windows were locked. I like to think if I was a princess I would be IN the tower in a plush down comforter bed, but seeing as I was only a drunk American girl it seems fitting I slept outside on the watch tower. But hey, sleeping under the stars with your best friend and cute boys on the tower of a castle is not a bad way to spend a night in Italy.
All in all, Finale Ligure was a cozy little stop-over on my backpacking trip in Italy. It is a lesser known area for western tourists, but a well known one for Italian tourists.
- Many families were on vacation, the beaches were a little crowded, and the nightlife was imaginary. If you want to relax and take a break from the chaos backpacking can cause, this is like a retreat.
- We booked ahead of time, and had to do so by e-mailing many times (the website is lacking).
- If I could go back I would add on Cinque Terre, as many travelers we met had just come from there.
- Upon arrival, we were surprised to be forced to buy a youth hosteling card in order to stay (some hostels apparently impose this- it is a discount membership card) and they are still the only place I have been that uses the card.
- The rooms are by no means luxurious, and they do offer dorm rooms, so don’t confuse this castle with a honeymoon destination!
I was in no way reimbursed for this review, actually, I hope they don’t see it because I think they would be angry we snuck in and stole cushions (Sorry!)… remember to subscribe below! ciao!
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I came to you through the Expats Blog Award entry. Great article! It sounds like you’re having a lot of fun in Italy. Who would’ve thought that they would have a curfew!
Oh awesome, I just looked at your recent post and those cookies look YUMMY i might have to try to make them !
These are the kinds of stories travelers dream about. Nothing too flashy but definitely a memory you will have for a long time. Thanks for sharing a fun story.
The castle sounds awesome, might have to check it out whenever I find myself in Italy!
yes you should, although its a castle it’s really got a hostel feel and i met loads of people that had just come from cinque terre! enjoy :)
I was recently retired as an Executive from a Bank job, and was contemplating to have holidays in Italy. I tried many sites, but this is an amazing and cool one. I will surely contact you when finalize my visit.
Thanks for the review. I was lucky enough to stay here way back in the early 90’s. It was fantastic. All those steps didn’t bother me. It was a good way to walk off a good meal. The people I met were amazing. This was also during the Yugoslavia civil war and there was a guy who had fled the country. We hung out up in the tower. His english was bad but I felt so bad for the guy and we tried to connect. Too bad I was in no position to help him. There was also a bad storm and I was trying to go out in the big waves. An old guy stopped me (thank god). Man was I stupid back then. So glad this place is still open. Go and relax in the castle!
haha very cool to hear your stories from the same place, in a different time!
I stayed at this lovely place in summer 1982/83….!
It was very nice and I wonder, it’s the same ……! We were 7,8 young people: italian, swedish, german and had a lot of fun and love……..! It was wonderful – a ligurien- summerdream ……..
I bet it hasn’t changed much! It was such a cool place as a backpacker :)
Hey Rachel, I was wondering how you booked the hostel? I’m hoping to stay there next summer but can’t find any info on prices or booking!
Hey I remember it was weird – we had to wire them money or something but that was nearly 9 years ago! We booked straight through their website though.
I stayed at the castle hostel in August 1990 while I was in law school – your review brought back a flood of memories- we did make it back before curfew- I wish I had taken more photographs of Finale Ligure- that was ages before digital cameras and cell phones! I do have one photo of the view from the hostel- it is almost identical to the one you posted!!
How awesome! I wonder if it’s still the same – as I wrote this post quite a long time ago! Glad you had some memories pop back up!
Just like Lynn I too stayed here in August 1990! Was “inter-railing” around europe with my friend Darren. We had a great time and I distinctly remember laying in my bunk looking directly out on that view over the town…the place was vibrant and full of travellers from all over the world…..happy days!