Our Matera Cave Hotel Experience and a Travel Dream Come True
My dream was torn from the pages of a tattered travel magazine. Pictures of an ancient cave city hidden in the hills of Matera, Italy and photos of a fabulous luxe hotel created from a series of abandoned caves. Le Grotte della Civita.
When we started planning our Spring trip to Puglia, Italy, I made sure to include a side-trip to Matera. We flew into Bari and made our way to Matera by bus (long story).
It took The Mister and me a few tries to find our hotel. Up, down, over the cobbled stone stairways that wound through the city and across the hillsides. It was a full-on CrossFit workout. After one wrong turn and an awkward patio invasion (sorry, random guest in their bathrobe), I saw Le Grotte della Civita, just as I remembered it from the pages of that magazine.
We were a hot mess when we arrived. A gentleman put a well-deserved drink in our hand. Another whisked our luggage away to our room/cave, leaving us with the concierge for a quick tour of the hotel before showing us to our cave. I love to say that. Our. Cave.
It wasn’t just an ordinary cave; it was a cool cave, tucked into a quiet corner overlooking the hills and the ravine.
It’s hard to imagine a cave being romantic, but ours was. Candles clustered everywhere, throwing a soft light against the ancient stone walls.
The Mister, thoughtful as always, ordered flowers and a bottle of the local wine.
Our “room” was a series of 4 caves, carved out over time by centuries of previous inhabitants. One small cave had a desk and window. The largest cave was our bedroom and the two smaller caves served as bath areas. A bath-cave, if you will.
We popped the cork on the bottle of wine, filled the giant, sunken tub with bath salts and spent the first hour or so of our stay soaking up the atmosphere and washing away the stress of the day’s travel.
Eventually, we wandered off to join the rest of Matera for the nightly passeggiata and dinner overlooking the Sassi.
We returned to our cave after wandering through town most of the evening.
Candles tucked into stone wall niches. Shadows danced against the cave ceiling and mortared walls. We tucked ourselves into the giant bed and wondered aloud about the people who carved a life from the caves and imagined what they would think of their humble, stone dwelling being part of someone’s travel dream.
Things to know About Matera
The hotel will arrange a car or Ape pickup for you, so you don’t have to bounce your luggage miles through the city like we did.
This is a luxury, boutique hotel experience and may not suit everyone looking for the classic definition of a luxury hotel. If butler service and pool are requirements for a comfortable stay, you should probably consider other options. If you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime, never-to-be-forgotten experience, this *is* for you.
Breakfast is served at the hotel (in a converted cave, natch). The outdoor seating area is fabulous for after dinner socializing and drinks.
The hotel can arrange tour guides if you fancy a walking tour of the city.
My only criticism is the bathroom lighting (I have to find *something* that wasn’t perfect, right?). It’s a bit dim, which suits me because I’m better looking in the dark, but others will find putting makeup on or shaving a challenge.
We were in Matera in May and found the cave temperature perfect. Check temperatures or call the hotel if you have questions about climate during your stay (these are caves after all).
I came to Matera solely for this hotel but fell in love with this magical city. We stayed in Matera for three days/two nights, which is the minimum amount of time needed to explore the city. Matera is meant for wandering and getting lost. Quoting The Mister, “It’s Venice without the water.”
Bring walking shoes and leave the Louboutins for Milan.
You can book your cave experience here…Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita Matera or call +39 0835 332744.
For more information about Matera and itinerary ideas, click here.
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