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Europe's Secret Hot Spots

Europe's secret hot spots: Matera, Italy

Michael Ventura / Alamy

Matera, Italy

Tourists are taking their sweet time to get the message about this starkly beautiful, monochromatic town of ancient architecture. Yet Matera has been a favorite of film directors (Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mel Gibson) for decades, and Francis Ford Coppola is opening his sixth hotel in nearby Bernalda, where his grandfather was born. Carved out of a limestone gorge, the millennia-old town in the southern region of Basilicata—the arch of Italy’s boot—was abandoned for decades, until artists and hippies began repopulating it in the 1950s and UNESCO declared the old town a World Heritage Site in 1993. From the natural-rock pool at the Locanda di San Martino, you can float while surveying the sassi (ancient cave dwellings) and hundreds of rock churches that date back to the Byzantine era.

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