Combine culture and beach on this twin-centre Southern Italy trip. Begin in Basilicata, amid Matera’s peerlessly photogenic cave hotels and ancient churches, before heading to Italy’s heel, where Puglia’s coastal towns and ancient olive groves await.
Culture & Caves
When you arrive in Matera, you may feel as though you’ve seen it before. Supremely cinematic, the ancient cave-dwellings of its UNESCO listed old town (known as the Sassi) have served as the backdrop for many a biblical epic. Sextantio Le Grotte Delle Civita is the place to stay.
Once evidence of the town’s acute poverty, many of the caves have now been transformed into boutique hotels and stylish wine bars. With its upcoming status as 2019’s European Capital of Culture, Matera’s revival is now complete. Spend two nights exploring the hundreds of stone and bronze age caves, which were turned into houses, palaces and churches in medieval times, as well as a host of impressive churches and museums.
Set off from Matera in the morning to arrive at the Puglian seaside in time for lunch. We recommend a five-night stay at Borgo Egnazia, whose traditional village architecture blends in nicely with its surroundings. A freshly made salad of rich tomatoes, golden olive oil and locally sourced seafood gives a hint of what’s in store.
Spend your days exploring the sun-bleached beaches and sheltered fishing villages of the rugged Adriatic coastline. Visit whitewashed hilltop towns, in which you’ll see the iconic trullo houses for which the region is known. With striking conical roofs, these dry-stone buildings have been around for hundreds of years and are particularly impressive at UNESCO-listed Alberobello. During your downtime, you can play golf at the championship course, relax at the beach clubs or rejuvenate in the hotel spa.