A medieval Italian castle, now a TikTok star

With their family church and dungeon, never mind the countless bedrooms and sitting rooms, there's a real variety of backdrops

“I’ve always loved living here; I’ve always felt very lucky to live here,” said Ludovica Sannazzaro.

Correspondent Seth Doane asked, “Did it settle in that you were living in a castle?”

“Not at first, if I have to be honest!”

My home is my castle” is not simply a figure of speech for Ludovica. When asked when it began to feel special, she said, “When I started taking my friends here and they were like, ‘You know where you live? Are you actually realizing this?'”

Her family has owned this spot in Italy’s Piedmont region for a good 28 generations. COVID forced (if can we say that) this 19-year-old back to her Italian castle after her performing arts school in Los Angeles shifted classes online.

Now, she’s facing troubles sort of like the rest of us: “The Wi-Fi. Sometimes it works perfectly, but sometimes it just doesn’t.”

“If you put the Wi-Fi over in that side of the castle, it might not reach the other side?” asked Doane.  

“Exactly – that’s the problem.”

ludovica-sannazzaro-with-seth-doane.jpg
Ludovica Sannazzaro with correspondent Seth Doane.   CBS NEWS

Perched just outside their 12th-century castle, above family dogs in what was once a moat, it’s clear Ludovica does appreciate the absurdity of it all. So, that led her a few months ago to seize on the natural fascination with this place – and use her free time. She started chronicling life on TikTok. Her account, The Castle Diary, quickly amassed hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of views.

With their family church and dungeon, never mind the countless bedrooms and sitting rooms, there’s a real variety of backdrops. Her most popular clips – including this one with more than eight million views – reveal the not-so-glamorous side of life.

… reminding us that behind every royal fantasy lies reality: imagine adding “clean the ballroom” to your list of chores.

Plus, she says there’s a fair amount of time simply spent looking for each other. “After you spend two hours trying to find people, you spend another two hours trying to find your phone,” Ludovica said.

There are bigger problems, and that’s how this idea started. Years ago, the family turned this castle into a bed-and-breakfast, which was great, until COVID, when bookings stopped – a hit to the business.

“This year has been a big problem,” said Ludovica’s dad, Count Giuseppe Sannazzaro.

The history buff left his finance job to lose money in the passion project of bringing this castle – and its story – back to life: “The first thing that people say is, ‘Ahh, you are the castle owner? How lucky you are!’ You sure? You want to change? Come one month here, and then you will change your opinion about living in a castle!”

There are cracks here and there, and a steep heating bill. Ludovica’s TikTok success, they say, has been a much-needed boost to bookings. It’s also revealed another side of the Count: “I must say, there’s a little bit of theatre in me, too!” he said.

Along with making cameos, he suggests historical storylines. But Ludovica’s main co-star is her friend Lorenzo Rho, who convinced her to start this account. 

italian-castle-dance.jpg
Ludovica Sannazzaro and Lorenzo Rho perform a dance for The Castle Diary videos.  CBS NEWS

Today’s art and implements are a sharp contrast in this medieval place. But, as through the centuries, audiences can be just as hard to satisfy. So, they spend hours editing and tweaking.

castle-tiktok-11.jpg
Ludovica Sannazzaro captures videos of castle living for her TikTok channel. CBS NEWS

And notably, there’s no script yet for Act II. What happens to The Castle Diary videos when Ludovica moves back to the U.S. for school? 

Doane asked, “Maybe your dad can take over?”

“No – he’s already in too many videos!” she laughed. “Every day, like, ‘My God, we’re going to shoot something today? What do I have to wear? I have so many ideas!’ I’m like, ‘Okay, Dad, don’t worry, just let me wake up now because I just got out of bed.'”

Conversations, it seems, just like some of life’s challenges, may not be so different … just because home really is a castle.

banner image via CBS News