Rocca Borromeo, Angera
Tel: 39 0331 931 300
Concierge.com's insider take:
This glowering Lombard castle was started in the 700s, though most of what you see was rebuilt between the 12th and 14th centuries by the Visconti dynasty of Milan. It was passed to the Borromeo family in 1449, who now open it to the public in part to show off their dolls. Yes, dolls. The collection is amazing, with more than 1,000 pieces going back to the 1200s, including dolls from medieval Japan and European mechanical puppets from the 1870s to 1920s. Even if you are not a fan of figurines, the castle itself is worth the trip. The great hall's stupendous frescoes were painted sometime between the late 13th and early 14th centuries to glorify the Visconti. Climb the central keep's tower for a view that sweeps over the grapevines in the inner courtyard to the lake snaking its way up into the foothills, framed by the snowy peaks of the Alps.
Open daily 9 am to 5:30 pm, mid-March to mid-October.