Matera, in southern Italy’s Basilicata: a unique experience.

Old Matera, used to portray Judea in Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of Christ’, is a maze of caves, churches, steps and stone facades. In 1993, in an attempt to protect its historical significance, Unesco declared this part of Matera a World Heritage site, and some of the caves that were once home to desperately poor families have been transformed into hotels and restaurants, reports the New York Times


One of the new hotels, Sextantio Albergo Diffuso Le Grotte Della Civita (pictured), incorporates grottoes, with facades cut into the rock or constructed from limestone blocks, with atmospheric lighting and a luxurious bathroom with an egg-shaped Philippe Starck bathtub. Travellers are prepared to pay a high price to spend the night in this poverty-transformed-into-luxury accommodation.

Francis Ford Coppola is about to come on board and is set to open the intimate Palazzo Margherita, a 19th-century villa in the remote town of Bernalda where his grandfather was born. About 25 miles south of Matera and just 10 miles from the Mediterranean coast, the interior has been designed by the chic Paris-based designer Jacques Grange, and has nine suites, a restaurant and a street-side bar.

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