Southern Italy’s Matera, one of our 21 places to go in 2012, is old-country Italy where prehistoric cave dwellings abut medieval villages, and friendly locals far outnumber tourists. That is, until now. The secret is out, most recently due to the buzz surrounding Francis Ford Coppola’s newest hotel, Palazzo Margherita. The property is located near Matera in the southern Italian province of Basilicata, in a sleepy seaside hamlet that was the birthplace of Coppola’s grandfather.
The 19th-century palazzo has been transformed into a small but splendid hideaway. All nine romantic rooms face an inner courtyard. Three country-house style garden rooms come with restored marble floors, claw-foot tubs, arched doorways, and the latest technology (plus, free Wi-Fi), while six suites are more dramatic with frescoed ceilings and a distinct design theme (Tunisian flair, Art Deco glamour, Rococo elegance); some suites have balconies. The downstairs salon becomes a cinema at night with state-of-the-art projection and a host of Italian film classics. A pretty swimming pool is tucked behind the lush walled gardens. Rates start from €800 and include in-room beverages, breakfast, and cooking lessons.