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Matera is one of the main attractions in remote and beautiful Basilicata. Know for its sassi - ancient neighbourhoods of stone houses carved out of the caves and cliffs, amongst which you can find many of the best places to stay in Matera. These hauntingly ancient buildings look so much like the backdrop to a nativity that Mell Gibson filmed his 'Passion of the Christ' here.
Matera's sassi redefine our understanding of 'old' - these communities dug into the mountainside have been continuously inhabited for the last nine thousand years, gradually including all the mod. cons, but still basically residing inside a mountain.
Many of the cave dwellings have been abandoned, but just as many have been refurbished and are now comfortable homes, or even hotels!
Some of the oldest dwellings here date from the Palaeolithic era - that's 15,000 years ago! and when you add to that the sassi, the beautiful stone churches with their wonderful frescos, and Tramontano Castle, you can see why the whole town has been made a World Heritage site.
Modern Matera sits on the crest of the ravine which the sassi cling to both sides of. It's modern compared to the sassi dwellings, but it's still got an Old Town, which has its own charms, including an elegant pedestrianised centre, around the Piazza Vittorio Veneto. It's also got a lot of life, with plenty of places to eat, drink and be merry.
Matera is a great place to stay because you're right in the midst of the region's best attractions. Try and make time to see inside some of the cave churches and appreciate their ancient art works, and also visit the Casa Grotta di Vico Solitario, which shows some of the hardship involved with living in the sassi during the 1950s. Conditions were so bad that in 1952 cave dwellers were forced to move out and into new Matera. But these days they're moving back!
For stunning views
- L'Hotel in Pietra was converted from a 13th Century monastery, but it's simplicity is grand rather than barren, and everything is on a vast scale. Suites and bedrooms are cavernous, with vaulted ceilings and mezzanine levels. And the boutique hotel has stunning views over the town.
- If you want to stay in one of the cave hotels, consider Le Grotte della Civita. Built into the sheer rock face, this cave hotel's 12 rooms and six suites are 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 cosy, and the medieval lair of a kitchen somehow turns out excellent food, so this is also one of the best places to stay in Matera for foodies.
Still not sure? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Matera, or contact, one of our friendly gurus for advice. Alternatively check out our full list of recommendations in Basilicata.
Best Hotels in Matera
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
Palazzo Gattini 20 rooms from $167Matera
Elegant 5* spa hotel. Rooms have contemporary furniture, exposed stone walls, luxurious bathrooms and artworks. Rooftop pool, terrace, extensive spa. Excellent dishes from Basilicata in the restaurant. Historic, chic and romantic.Spa breaks - Outstanding spa in the ancient cisterns of the palazzo, with extensive range of treatments in relaxing and luxurious hotelSights nearby - Santa Maria di Costantinopoli; Cathedral of Matera, Sassi, and San Giovanni Battista ChurchLocal markets - Good for local colour.Spa
Locanda di San Martino 32 rooms from $176Matera
Gorgeous hotel in the city. Rooms are large and decorated with antique furniture, original stone features and modern bathrooms. Indoor pool and excellent spa with Turkish baths. Atmospheric stay with lots of Italian romance and splendid views of the city.Local exploring - If you can bear to leave the romantic hotel, there are many regional historical delights in Matera and surroundingsSights nearby - San Giovanni Battista Church, Sassi, and Cathedral of MateraFull of characterSpa
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