Honeymoons are mostly associated with paradise-like beaches, jungle apartments, romantic Bali-like bamboo huts… but is this year not about extraordinary solutions? In 2020 travellers would often choose boutique hotels, extraordinary aparthotels or glamping over the huge complex 5star resorts. The future is about something different.
Let me introduce you to a destination ‘like no other’.
Last week, I had a pleasure to visit Matera – the beautiful little ‘gem of a town’ in the southern Basilicata region of Italy. I have seen a lot in this world but Matera is really something I have never seen before. Let me explain what sort of magic got me so fascinated about the city.
Matera is one of a kind destination for many reasons. The city and its main attraction – the Sassi caves (whitewashed limestone homes) have been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. In 1952 around 15 thousand of Materans were displaced from their Sassi due to the deadly malaria epidemics but some of them returned to their beloved homes in the ’80s. It is safe to say their children and grandchildren still live in some of them. This particular fact makes the whole Matera experience realistic and fascinating. Let’s be honest – you won’t find a lot of such places in this world in 2020 – especially not in Europe.
There are no cheap shops and stands selling ‘made in China’ souvenirs – only local stands, local artists.
Matera was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and in 2019 the city was declared a European Capital of Culture. It is a museum of architecture, art and culture itself!
The Sassi caves, viewpoints and numerous churches are the main attraction of the city but what I would also recommend is… to get lost in its narrow alleyways. This way you would truly be able to experience the vibe of the city.
You also need to explore the authentic Sassi, or stay in one of them (Palazzo del Duca is a great alternative). There are the whole loads of churches and temples so it would be great if you could step into at least one. The viewpoints are marvellous anytime but an early wake-up call is a must! Sunsets and sunrises in Matera are magical!
You also have to taste the volcanic wine from Basilicata, try the famous pan de Matera (delicious bread), Pecorino di Filiano (cheese), Caciocavallo Podolico (cheese), Senise peppers and Ciammotta (veggie stew).
Let me leave you with some of the photos I took. There are some destinations you just can’t describe with words.
Would I recommend this precious little town for a honeymoon? Without a hint of hesitation. What I would recommend you to do is a road trip to Puglia – you could either explore Monopoli and Polignano a Mare or head to the South ‘Italian Maldives’ in Salento. You could end your trip in Matera and stay there a night or two. I have found a perfect place to do so!
We were staying at Palazzo Del Duca, a luxury hotel in the heart of Eastern Matera. I find this place extraordinary and definitely in my top 5 Unique Stays in Europe (if not in the world!). The palace previously belonged to Malvini Melvezzi from Bologna, an Italian baron and marquises of Pietranico, Malanotte, Turaglio and Pennadoro. You can actually feel this place has a piece of history to tell.
Today’s Palazzo is not an authentic Sassi cave but it was recreated by the local artists, architects and built with the help of Materans who truly knew the traditions. Even the small parts of furniture, such as coffee tables and vases were created by the locals. Despite the fact it is not an authentic Sassi, it would make you feel like you time-travelled to the Palaeolithic period.
I would never recommend something that I am not 100% sure of – especially not in my Weddings&Honeymoons series. Palazzo Del Duca was listed in TOP 20 Honeymoon Stays in Matera in 2019, and is rated 5/5 on TripAdvisor (170 reviews).
As for the honeymoon-perfect suites, we were lucky enough to stay in two of them.
Suite Santa Candida is an ideal choice for the couple – luxurious suite featuring a hot tub and a Sassi-inspired elegant interior. It would give you the privacy you need but also – the views! The outside door would lead you straight to a touristic path overlooking the majestic and evocative landscape of Sassi. It truly is something remarkable!
Grottapignata was something you would describe as a ‘level up’ experience. It is not just a hotel room, it is a massive suite with a heated swimming pool inside. Like really, a swimming pool with a hydromassage and a waterfall. What I also find truly fascinating is the beautiful retro-inspired bathroom decor mixed with authentic-looking Sassi rock walls. ‘Grottapignata’ is an interior masterpiece!
The Palazzo is designed to make people feel well taken care of and experience their stay in privacy but you can also design your own honeymoon package and you can go as crazy as you want.
Apart from being listen in top 20 honeymoon stays in Matera in 2019, Palazzo del Duca also specializes in organising small wedding ceremonies. The offer includes events hall, civil ceremonies (which is a really important feauture), baby sitting, car rental and a setting coordination. Check the whole offer under this link.
‘Spacious and elegant rooms, panoramic terraces, extra-luxurious rooms and services, and a high-level culinary offer based on local products: everything here combines with bride and groom’s desire for perfection.’