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Revel in medieval architecture and boutique lodgings in this undiscovered part of Italy

Word of Mouth"We spent about 45 minutes inside the Casa Grotta del Casalnuovo, a multi-roomed cavern that was formerly the residence of a relatively well-to-do sassi family and is now preserved intact as a house museum. This was absolutely fascinating!" writes Fodorite ekscrunchy. "As we walked along the streets, we were often walking on the roofs of the facades that jutted out from the caves and formed the front room of residences. The entire landscape is a cubist fairyland and I was awestruck."

Why Go NowIn-the-know Italy lovers are buzzing about this under-the-radar patch of country, located in the arch of Italy’s boot. Basilicata’s ancient city of Matera (where Passion of the Christ was filmed) feels lost in time; it’s home to UNESCO World Heritage site Sassi, comprising hundreds of cave dwellings dating back to the eighth century, some of which have been converted into Matera’s most-coveted rooms. Even the local cuisine takes its queues from age-old recipes. Nearby, Francis Ford Coppola will open his sixth hotel—and his first in Italy—in the sleepy village of Bernalda, his grandfather’s hometown.

Where to StayRooms carved from ancient tufa rock make up the 18 sparsely decorated accommodations at Matera’s Sextiano Le Grotte Della Civita. This spring, Coppola’s re-imagined 19th-century Palazzo Margherita hotel, which recently hosted daughter Sofia Coppola’s wedding, will launch with eight guest rooms, an outdoor pool, and wine bar. See more hotel reviews in Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria.

Insider TipThe fastest way to get to Basilicata is to fly into Bari and rent a car at the airport for the 32-mile drive to Matera.

When to GoSouthern Italy is lovely in April and May, and again after the summer’s heat dissipates in September.

Plan Your TripVisit Fodor's Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria Travel Guide for the latest hotel and restaurant reviews in Matera and beyond.

Photo: clodio/istockphoto

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