Hiro took me on adventure for my birthday last week.
We ventured deeper into Italy into an almost surreal and genuinely magical place. If you happen to regard Paris as the most romantic place in Europe, then I beg to differ and you are sorely mistaken! Having now visited Matera, there is no doubt in my mind, this is a truly special, unique and romantic location.
We are not the sort of people that normally indulge in swanky hotels. In fact, we normally try our best to spend as little time as possible in hotels opting instead to spend our time exploring. However, on this occasion, we did things a little differently and found ourselves in breathtakingly wondrous accommodation.
Upon arrival in Matera and then.....down many stairs, up some more, winding through narrow alleys and strangely abandoned side streets (we could have taken a taxi but that is not our style), we found our way Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita.
The polite and informative receptionist showed us to our cave and directed me to open the door, using a very large key! (I love keys!)
I do believe that I actually let out a gasp when I laid eyes on our room which consisted of 3 candlelit caves one leading on from another.
The largest area contained an elevated iron framed bed (high up for this is the traditional method to tackle nighttime humidity), a generous dining table, dresser and benches. A simple rustic open closet and chest of drawers make use of the nooks and crannies. A sculptural bath (designed by Phillipe Starke) reclines in its own cave that leads onto the toilet area which also has a very large reclaimed sink (once used to dip sheep) and a tiny table and chair.
You would be forgiven for thinking that slumbering in a cave would be nothing short of an uncomfortable and rather claustrophobia experience. However, Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita is here to prove otherwise. The intelligent use of space and scarcely furnished caves make it feel very airy, roomy an uncluttered. We slept easy and deeply upon the well balanced bed (not too soft, not too firm), enveloped in the cool dark comfort of the caves...and, I am pleased to report that the Hiro found the lighting in our rooms very agreeable indeed!
The sun creeps into the caves through the cracks in the doors at about 5am as if just to check that we are well. It leaves us alone again and if it were not for my alarm, we may well have slept the whole day through!
Breakfast is served in the common room which once served as a place of reverence and prayer. The now deconsecrated church (loving the sound of that) is a cavernous uneven-floored dining room in which an array of fruit, bread, cheese and cakes are served all locally made and produced. From here we ate in shadows of ancients overlooking a stunning view of the canyon.
The tomato focaccia (handmade on site) has to be one of the most delicious breads that I have ever tried - and I am not mad about bread.
Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita is thoroughly steeped in history. It permeates from every corner of the hotel. Civita is the oldest part of Matera and though the once decaying abandoned caves of the hotel have been conscientiously and meticulously restored, refurbished and respectfully modernised, there is still a profound feeling that lingers in the air. Resonating the memory of those who were here before and this sets Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita apart from any other hotel I have visited.
Where the touch of modernity is evident, it is tempered with the earnest feeling that this is just an addition, a footnote, in the time old tale of the Sassi of the Civita in Matera.
| Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita |