- Ludovica Sannazzaro lives in an Italian castle that’s been in her family for 28 generations.
- Sannazzaro, 19, went viral on TikTok after showing the unexpected realities of living in a castle.
- WiFi can be spotty, and cleaning the garden can take between two and three days.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Life is rarely a fairy tale, but it might seem like 19-year-old Ludovica Sannazzaro lives in one from the outside looking in.
Sannazzaro and her family live in Castello Sannazzaro, a 12th-century Italian castle that’s been passed down through her family for 28 generations. Nestled among the sprawling greenery of the Piedmont region, Castello Sannazzaro spans 107,639 square feet, with a 269,097-square-foot garden, 45 rooms, 15 bedrooms, and invaluable historical archives dating back to 1163.
“When I was younger, I used to watch Disney movies with princesses, and I could pretend that I was them running around the castle or dancing in the ballroom,” Sannazzaro told Insider.
“At first, I didn’t even realize that I was living in a place quite like this,” she added. “I was raised here, and I grew up here, so sometimes I forget how amazing this is because it’s just my house.”
While the family lives in the castle full time, Castello Sannazzaro doubles as a bed-and-breakfast with rooms that reopened in May.
Sannazzaro moved to New York City to attend the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in fall 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought her plans to a halt. She was forced to move back into her childhood home for quarantine and online classes.
Castello Sannazzaro also faced challenges as would-be visitors paused travel plans and entered lockdown.
Sannazzaro created a TikTok account to document the realities of living in a castle
With plenty of time on her hands and the grounds relatively empty, Sannazzaro created a TikTok account, The Castle Diary, to chronicle life inside a castle.
The first video, posted on March 7, is captioned: “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to live in a castle?” It shows users glimpses of brightly painted fresco ceilings, ballrooms, statues of past relatives, and medieval architecture.
Other videos show off the family’s full church, icehouse hidden underneath a hill, a dungeon, and secret passageways that doubled as a wine cellar.
Sannazzaro continued to take videos of Castello Sannazzaro but said she soon realized that many people had a very idealistic view of what living in a castle was like.
“Sometimes people don’t even know that it’s possible for families to live in places like this,” Sannazzaro said. “So when I started the account, everyone was like, ‘Oh, cool! You have maids and butlers and people that serve you.’ I was like, ‘Actually, no.'”
According to Sannazzaro, there are a few unexpected features that come along with the perks. For example, WiFi can be spotty around the large abode, it can get very cold, and misplacing your phone can turn into a full-fledged search.
“When we lose something, it’s very hard for us to find it,” Sannazzaro said. “It’s very hard to understand where we are, so when we want to find each other, we spend a lot of time just walking around.”
Her father, Count Giuseppe Sannazzaro, said chores also took up “a lot of time.”
“We have a housekeeper and someone helping us with the garden, but for the most part, we do it ourselves,” Giuseppe Sannazzaro said, adding that his wife was outside mowing their lawn during the interview.
Giuseppe and Ludovica said it could take about two to three days to mow the entire garden during this time of year. Cleaning a single tower can take one day.
Ludovica and Giuseppe celebrate Castello Sannazzaro by looking toward the past
The castle’s website says Castello Sannazzaro was built after four cousins from the Santo Nazario (Sannazzaro) family were permitted by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I to build a castle.
“I inherited the castle in 1986 from a great-aunt, but the castle was relatively unused until 2006,” Giuseppe Sannazzaro said. That’s when he and his family moved in, renovated the castle, and opened it up for reservations.
During Italy’s first lockdown last year, Giuseppe Sannazzaro decided to organize the family’s archive with all the historical documents. In one TikTok video, Ludovica Sannazzaro shows users a letter her father found addressed from Pope Pius XII to a relative, Count Jacopo Sannazzaro, for his merits toward the church.
“Until last year, I didn’t even realize how cool and important our family history is,” Ludovica Sannazzaro said. “And that’s also part of the reason I decided to open the TikTok account. I was curious about where I live, and the account helped me.”
She added: “Every day, I’m a little bit more curious, and I explore this place with completely different eyes.”