Discover Southern Europe, Issue 6, July 2019

Page 32

Discover Southern Europe  |  Top Accommodation in Matera / Discovering People in Italy

The hotel at the historic heart of Matera At the heart of the ancient city centre in Matera, considered by many to be the ‘sleeping beauty’ of Italy and one of Europe’s best kept secrets, lies the Hotel in Pietra – named after the historic local stones. TEXT: ROSE SGUEGLIA  |  PHOTOS: ANTONELLO DI GENNARO

Housed in a converted 13th-century church, San Giovanni Vecchio, this historic boutique hotel is just 200 yards from Matera’s main square, Piazza del Duomo, and the city centre. The six rooms and three suites – which come complete with Jacuzzis – feature an eclectic décor mixing contemporary chic with traditional styling, markedly different from the more straightforwardly traditional approach of other nearby hotels but still very much in harmony with the character of the building. “I have been lucky to find these locations,” says Roberto Cristallo, hotel manager and owner of the Hotel in Pietra. “In particular, this converted church which houses the hall, the breakfast room and the bar. Everything else, such as the buildings which stand next to the church, has been carved

directly into the stones, adding a special charm to their character.” “I have always been interested in the tourism sector,” he continues. “It’s a passion of mine which was born after spending several years working with my father Raffaele in my family hotel,”

“We have worked tirelessly to make the hotel as comfortable as possible. We wanted our customers to come to our hotel, relax and enjoy their stay in Matera, and that is why we have added the Jacuzzis and soon we will be adding a sauna room.” The hotel also offers an excellent breakfast buffet designed to set guests up for a day of exploring in Matera. Facebook: hotelinpietra Instagram: @hotelinpietra

Top wine tips, tours and tastings in Piedmont Most wine lovers like nothing more than getting the inside track on wines and wineries, and gregarious tour guide Ornella Bonifacio is an expert at providing exactly that, guiding visitors around Italy’s premier wine region. “I specialise in custom-designed holidays around Alba, a historic town located in the heart of Piedmont’s wine region,” explains Ornella. “I work with a wide range of producers, carefully selecting the best wineries to suit the tastes of each and every client.” Having conducted wine tastings in a local family-run winery for a number of years, Ornella eventually decided to set up her own business leading wine tours in the region. Over the years, her business has greatly evolved, and today, Ornella is also involved in various other projects. “Many of my clients come to Piedmont to explore the region’s exceptional food and wine scene, although a number are more interested in shopping, art or even literature. Some are even on the hunt for a second home,” explains Ornella. Over the years, Ornella has built close relationships with a plethora of businesses in 32  |  Issue 6  |  July 2019

the area, from local seamstresses to niche bookshops and real estate agents, providing her with the expertise, knowledge and local contacts to create bespoke itineraries to suit her varied clientele, who come from as far as South Korea and Japan. “Most visitors inevitably visit this area to learn more about Piedmont’s fine wines, not least its exceptional Barolos and Barbarescos. As Charles Baudelaire said, ‘A man who

Photo: Ornella Bonifacio


drinks only water has a secret to hide from his fellow men’,” she laughs, quoting her favourite French poet. Ornella teaches clients about every aspect of the local wine industry, from viticulture to wine tasting. “There is much, much more to Piedmont than fine wines. I offer my clients a diverse range of experiences for them to really delve into the heart of Piedmont’s culture and traditions.” Telephone: +39 335 682 6852 E-mail: Facebook: ornella.bonifacio.3

Photo: Ornella Bonifacio