Aquatio: A Hidden Jewel in Historic Matera

Hidden beneath the ancient town of Sassi di Matera, Italy, lies a remarkable network of cave dwellings made of soft tuff carved over time by the river, la Gravina. Incidentally, the city of Matera happens to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world––later declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and recently, the 2019 European Capital of Culture. The gorgeous natural landscape and historic patrimony of the city is the backdrop that inspired the design and immersive experience of the Aquatio hotel.

Located under the main square of Sassi, the Aquatio luxury hotel and spa were designed by architect Cosima del Acqua and interior designer Simone Micheli; whose idea was to create a subterranean hotel where the early Matera inhabitants used to reside. The designers sought to preserve the natural majesty of the caves, while smoothly transitioning to arched masonry where necessary.

The cavernous hotel recalls Matera’s accumulated centuries through its weathered stone. This stone’s warm neutral tone highlights its glorious crags and holes; while a play of soft lights and shadows through cove lights and uplights further enhances the cave experience. On the other hand, the modern furniture design purposely complements the caves with its all-white color palette and sleek streamlined edges.

Washed in a theatre of blue and green lights, the hotel’s ravine narrative is carried through in its underground spa; featuring a sauna, heated indoor pool, hammam, tea corner, and restaurant––ensuring the guests a comfortable stay. Lastly, outside the hotel, guests are blown away by the breathtaking view of the valley; as well as the endless corridors, alleys, and terraces of Matera.

An extraordinary time capsule and a hidden gem in Southern Italy, the Aquatio captures the essence of Matera’s natural caverns and historical past. What is your impression of Matera and the Aquatio hotel? Let us know in the comments section below!

Images from Aquatio Cave

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