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Basilicata's tragically priceless position on the ancient Roman road between Rome and its Byzantine empire, meant a forest of fortresses were built into the region's hillsides and cliffs. These were invaded and plundered repeatedly until the unification of Italy in 1861, when Basilicata became a bit politically irrelevant. And this region of dark forests and high mountains became a place where superstition flourished. If you're interested in the region's rich history, some of the best places to stay in Basilicata are Melfi, Venosa and Matera. This is where you'll find some of the most significant of Basilicata's Byzantian, Norman and Roman relics on display.
Matera is the best place to stay in Basilicata if you want to be near the region's star attraction. Matera itself is the attraction: a town so well built into the ravine that it looks organically formed. The town's cave-dwellings, called Sassi, are in, and below, the centre. The earliest Sassi were built by Byzantine and Benedictine monks for security, but their obvious success meant that farmers and other locals began fashioning them as homes as well. In 1993 the city, and its surrounding grotto towns, was declared a World Heritage Site. And in 2003 this is where Mel Gibson filmed 'The Passion of the Christ'.
- Le Grotte della Civita is one of the best places to stay in Basilicata if you're looking for a really unusual place to lay your head. Built into the sheer rock face, the hotel's 12 rooms and six suites lie in vaulted caves - so you sleep surrounded by lovely pale sandstone. If it sounds chilly don't worry, there are log fires and generous standalone bathtubs to keep you feeling cozy. And the views from the rock face balconies are fantastic.
In the north of the region wheat, olives and grapes are grown on gentle hills, and this rural area is a great choice for foodies with its wealth of local ingredients.
Basilicata's mountains, the Lucanian Apennines, are familiar to hikers. Both for their challenging peaks and dense wooded valleys. If you're here to hike, some of the best places to stay in Basilicata are Pollino, Sila and Aspromonte.
Maratea is Basilicata's main coastal resort, and one of the best places to stay in Basilicata as far as tourist infrastructure is concerned. The medieval village of the old town is a charming contrast to the up-and-coming harbour. And many Italian holidaymakers have been won over. Coming in on the coastal road - which is even more narrow and winding than the Amalfi Coast Road - you can see the many hidden harbours and perfect sandy coves.
- Basilicata's other coast, on the Ionian Sea, is a better choice for those looking for ancient sites. Metaponto and Policoro, once parts of Magna Graecia, are on this coast.
Best Hotels in Basilicata
L'Hotel in Pietra 8 rooms from $78Matera
A monasterial boutique hotel with enormous rooms in Matera. Cavernous bedrooms and suites with vaulted ceilings, mezzanine levels, and stunning views over the town. Unusual and great value.Value chicCooking classes - Check for timings.Great walks - Good for walkers.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - I Escape
Villa Cheta 23 rooms from $119Maratea (Acquafredda)
Rose & cream washed stuccoed 19th century villa tucked into the hillside overlooking the sparkling Mediterranean. Charming and genteel, this art nouveau hotel has old-fashioned values and style. Pretty tiered gardens, a profusion of flowers, spill down to the pebbled beach. Unhurried and tranquilTown - Maratea has a beautiful historical centre and 44 churches, and the local port of Acquafredda is lively with bars and boutiquesOn the beach - The hotel shuttle bus takes guests to the sandy Anginarra beach or stroll down to the hotel's pebbly beachOther Activities - There are plenty of activities close by such as tennis, riding, sailing, diving, hiking and paraglidiingRestaurant - Recommended.Recommended by - I Escape, Sawdays
Santavenere Hotel 34 rooms from $136Maratea
Iconic 5* resort set in stunning gardens overlooking the Med. Rooms are classic and elegant, often with private balcony or terrace. Extensive wellness centre with indoor and outdoor pools, private beach and beautiful outdoor fine dining with views out to sea. Top notch luxury in unspoilt Maratea.Fishing - night fishing trips on offerKayaking - available at private beachDiving - Diving trips on offerSights nearby - Trips to Dino Island
La Locanda delle Donne Monache 27 rooms from $157Maratea
Charming hotel in a converted convent, built in 1735, tucked away in the mediaeval town of Maratea on the Basilicata coast. Wonderful mountain and rooftop views. Contemporary, quiet rooms in soft shade. Pretty gardens and pool. Gourmet cuisine. Close to the beach. A perfect all round hotel.Suites - Four types of well-appointed rooms from Classic to Suites with original features and some with terracesRestaurant - The restaurant Il Sacello overlooks the gardens and swimming pool, and offers gourmet regional cuisineBeach nearby - The hotel shuttle bus takes guests to Maratea's beach ten minutes drive awayBar - The Bar L'Alambicco serves cocktails and delicious light snacksRecommended by - I Escape, CN Traveller
Hotel Torre Fiore 13 rooms from $167Pisticci, Basilicata
Delicious boutique hotel in the Bascilicata region of southern Italy. The Ionian sea can be glimpsed in the far distance. Family owned this 16th century fort has been lovingly restored and given a chic, contemporary makeover. Infinity pool, mouth-watering cuisine: the perfect romantic break.Suites - Each room is unique, favourites include Suite 13 with two terraces and views over the valley and piazzaRestaurant - Menus change daily, if you can't make up your mind try the tasting menuSights nearby - There are many interesting villages and towns in the vicinity to discover.Sailing - On the coastRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
Le Grotte della Civita 18 rooms from $209Matera
A cave hotel with medieval romance in a magnificent hilltop setting. Very unusual rooms and suites with vaulted ceilings, sandstone walls, and standalone bathtubs with burning log fires. Delicious food, cooking lessons, and spectacular views. Definite wow factor for honeymooners or romantic breaks.Unusual - Constructed caves.Romantic - Good for couples.Romantic BreakHoneymoonsRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet
Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita 12 rooms from $365Matera
Dating back to the prehistoric period, this UNESCO site must be one of the world's oldest hotels. Carved into the hills it is at one with nature. Cosy, candlelit rooms include statement baths making it effortlessly romantic. The traditional, rustic cuisine and rural views are sublime. A true escape!Birdwatching - Kestrels, eagles, red kites and even Egyptian vultures can be spotted from within the national park.Back to Nature - You are quite literally part of nature as the rooms are carved into the surrounding hills.Sights nearby - MUSMA, the contemporary art museum, is well worth a visit for art enthusiasts.Great walks - Through the ambient Piazza Vittorio Veneto town.Recommended by - I Escape, Tablet, Mr & Mrs Smith
Palazzo Margherita 9 rooms from $512Bernalda, Basilicata
Francis Ford Coppola's fifth hotel in the sleepy town of Bernalda. This rococo chic 19th century frescoed Palazzo has been given a magical makeover. Secluded courtyard, vine covered pergolas, lavender and rosemary beds, pool and private cinema complete the picture.Suites - Suite 4 designed by Sofia Coppola is one of the favourites with pastel shaded frescos and private terraceBar - The Cinecitta bar serves wood-fired pizza on the terrace overlooking the picturesque town squareRestaurant - Dine in the kitchen or courtyard, simple yet exquisite locally sourced menusGarden - Large walled gardenRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, CN Traveller