Hidden Inside These Caves Is The Most Amazing Little Secret Place I’ve Ever Seen

Nested in the grottos of a medieval mountain village, nurtured within the Gravina River Valley in Matera Italy, lies a gorgeous hidden gem, the La Grotta della Civita hotel. It’s a romantic candle-lit cave hotel perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the majestic Gravina gorge.
La Grotta della Civita has 18 cave rooms and a restaurant now, although it started out as a deserted network of hand-carved limestone caves in the 1950’s. They are situated with a beautiful view over the Gravina gorge and are integrated into the rustic towns winding cobblestone streets.

From the 1950’s to the 1980’s, these cliffs were basically unlivable. The area was poverty stricken and most of it’s inhabitants were relocated by the Italian government into nearby growing cities.

A young girl living in Germany named Margareta Berg ran away from her parents as a teenager, ending up in Matera. Despite seeing hippies living in the caves, she developed a vision for what they could become. Years later, she spread her vision to Mr. Daniele Kihlgren, a Swedish-Italian entrepreneur and hotelier, who ultimately championed the mission to illuminate the hidden beauty of the caves.

The hotel is so unknown that many tourist offices are oblivious to it’s existence. The cavernous rooms are heart-stoppingly romantic yet simply decorated to preserve the essence of the building. And those candles aren’t just for the photography. The hosts light them in every room each night, giving the them an inviting romantic allure.

The hotel stays true to it’s roots by excluding telephones and TV’s, although there is WIFI in every room. The cobblestone floors are heated from underneath, making it a cozy to walk on the limestone barefoot at night.

The town Maltera and the sassi are being brought to life with the support of the Italian government, European Union, and Hollywood’s film industry. It’s where Mel Gibson used the incredible gorge as a setting for *ThePassion of the Christ*. Now the businesses in the local town are doing great because of all the support.

Italy has about 1500 deserted towns and villages in it’s mountains and roughly an additional 2000 partially deserted ones. Daniele Kihlgren’s mission is to continue renovating them one at a time, breathing life and beauty into each one. She wants to place restaurants, wine cellars, tea rooms, local art studios, and shops within them as a means to attract tourist attention. The group managing the Grotte della Civita, Sextantio, has already purchased 9 villages within the Abruzzi region. It intends to continue Kihlgren’s mission with each one.

Their philosophy is known as Albergo Diffuso, meaning “widespread hotel.” This is an innovative concept in the hospitality industry which started in Italy. The idea is to renovate a historic building or town while also preserving and illuminating it’s history and culture. Hotels renovated in the spirit of Albergo Diffuso are designed such that guests are naturally brought into the heart of local life.

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