Room service at Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita in Matera, Italy (Photo by Brad A. Johnson)
Here’s a photo I took last month in Matera, Italy. This was the dining table in my hotel suite. You might notice a similarity between this photo and the image that I use for my header. Both were taken at the same place. This was my second visit to Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, one of the most amazing hotels in the world, a property that has flipped the idea of luxury on its head. Built from a series of ancient residential caves, the hotel is truly sublime. Yet also shockingly stark and rustic. I’ll be posting more photos of Sextantio soon. But for now, a single image pretty much says it all.
I’m excited to announce that I won First Place in the OC Press Club Awards for my travel article La Dolce Grotta, a story about the ancient cave village of Matera, Italy. Matera was once considered the shame of Italy. But not anymore. You can read the article here.
The road into the Sassi di Matera was built for donkeys, not speeding minivans. But my taxi driver punches the accelerator, and our top-heavy shuttle teeters around another curve. The sun has just set, so it’s hard for me to make out the slanted terrain. The right side of the vehicle squeaks past the edge of a house built into the cliff. I peer out the opposite window and see nothing but a deep, black ravine. The van seems far too big for this road, like when a snake swallows a rabbit. Yet another oncoming car forces us onto the shoulder in an unwelcome game of chicken, then the driver nonchalantly slams the brakes and jumps the curb, landing us in a weed-filled slot barely larger than the van. To the front and left, we face the mountain. To the right, I notice a dusty stairway twice as high as the van, covered in weeds and dust. I look at my driver. “Why are we stopping?” Continue reading →
I’ve just returned from Matera, a truly amazing mountain cave village in Basilicata in Southern Italy. This is an incredible place with extraordinary history, which dates back to the Paleolithic era of the Stone Age. I stayed at a remarkable new luxury hotel, Sextantio Le Grotta Della Civita, which was converted from former cave dwellings. Watch for my full report in the October issues of Angeleno, CS, Houston, Dallas and Riviera (due out at the end of September). Meanwhile, a few pictures.