Here’s what to know about Hotel Santavenere in Maratea, Italy

A stay at this small luxury hotel feels like stepping into Italy’s dolce vita era
View of mountains and sea at Santavenere hotel in Italy
(Photo: Santavenere)

Parts of the Italian coastline are, justifiably, on many people’s bucket lists. Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, and islands like Capri and Ischia conjure up images of dramatic cliffs and mountains, perched stone villages, the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, and luxury hotels serving the freshest seafood. But with this fame comes crowds. In high season, which now extends to much of May and September, throngs of visitors cram into these small places and can result in a not very relaxing, special, or even fun vacation.

I was looking for a less-discovered and more authentic alternative, and found Hotel Santavenere. This intimate five-star small luxury resort in Basilicata, nestled in the middle of 25 landscaped acres, overlooks pristine coastline and the ancient and charming defensive village of Maratea. 

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The 34-room, mid-century modern gem provides easy access for swims in the Tyrrhenian Sea, as well as its own pool. With a spa, extensive gardens, and three restaurants serving seasonal, local food, there is little reason to want to leave this hotel’s nurturing environment and warm hospitality—all in a setting which made me feel like I had stepped into the middle of Italy’s dolce vita era. The hotel recently became part of The Leading Hotel of the World group.

Things to Know About Hotel Santavenere Maratea

view of the beach and Il Carrubo restaurant at Santavenere Hotel in Italy
View of the beach and Il Carrubo restaurant at Santavenere (Photo: Santavenere Hotel)
  • Santavenere was originally built in 1953 by Count Stefano Rivetti, a wealthy industrialist from Piedmonte who recognized the potential of this stunning, undeveloped coastline and created the first five-star resort in Southern Italy. The hotel is beautifully low-rise and spacious, sprawling over 32,000 square feet.
  • The hotel has recently reopened after extensive renovations by the renowned architect Pino Brescia. The restoration has been done in such a sensitive manner that one would almost swear that the hotel’s original mid-century modern vision was untouched, yet with abundant modern luxuries.
  • The Santavenere has 34-rooms, including eight newly transformed garden rooms with terraces.
  • The Tyrrhenian Sea is visible from nearly every part of the hotel. It is a 10-minute walk on a trail zig-zagging down the cliff through beautiful woods to reach the beach club featuring thoughtfully placed sun beds on terraces. Beautiful, large rocks separate the sun beds from the water, and there is a ladder to make swimming access to the sea easy.
  • There is a one-kilometer long private beach that adjoins the sun bed terraces, as well as a casual restaurant, Il Carrubo. 
  • The Santavenere’s other two restaurants are positioned to take full advantage of the beautiful view. Le Lanterne features fresh, local food with a nice modern interpretation of Italian classics. It is open for dinner and the impressive breakfast buffet. The more casual Gli Ulivi is perched over the water between the cliff and the pool, surrounded by olives trees, as its name implies.
  • A tennis court, gym, and a large outdoor pool are available on the grounds. There are also bikes available to borrow.
  • One floor of the hotel is dedicated to the lobby and restaurant. The lobby, with antiques and floor tiles custom made for the hotel in the 1950s, is home to the cocktail bar, which also offers cocktail crafting classes.
  • Santavenere is located two-and-a-half hours south of the Amalfi Coast by car, and three hours from Rome by train.
  • A new 5,000-square-foot spa offers a range of treatments in a space that includes a Turkish bath, heated indoor pool, cold plunge pool, and a Finnish sauna.
  • The hotel offers or can arrange a whole range of fun adventures from tours of local villages and caves to arranging for kayaks, snorkeling, and fishing to advice on hiking and mountain biking. And there are adventures to be had on the property, too, including cooking classes, cocktail-making sessions, and picnics in the garden. 
  • For a more extensive immersion into Southern Italy, a stay at Hotel Santavenere could be combined with the Santavenere’s sister hotel, Borgo Egnazia in Puglia.
  • I live in Tuscany and marvel at the warmth of the Italians, but the staff took it to a whole other level—the lovely, open, kind personalities that the South is known for—eager to make your stay special.
  • We were traveling with our dog and the hotel was very dog friendly, from a special bed and bowls waiting in our room to the staff knowing her by name and greeting her throughout the hotel before they even said hello to us.

What Families Need to Know 

swimming pool at Santavenere hotel in Italy
The swimming pool is ringed by a shallow wading pool (Photo: Santavenere Hotel)

The Santavenere provides a warm welcome for families and kids of all ages. Triple rooms are available. The Maratea Suite and the Deluxe Suite With Garden View can accommodate up to three adults, all other suites can accommodate two adults and one child (up to 12 years). Additional cots are also available.

The private beach would delight younger children while a range of more adventurous activities, like snorkeling, kayaking, and cave exploring would keep older kids entertained. The large outdoor pool, located at the hotel level, has a shallow wading pool surrounding almost the entire large pool, which would give younger kids a nice place to play in the water while the adults could be in the main part of the pool.

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There’s also a small kids’ club with swings and games for children. And the hotel can arrange babysitting.

Hotel Santavenere Maratea Reviews

Tripadvisor reviewers give the property 4.5 out of 5 with 219 reviews. Reviewers most often mentioned they loved the views, location, food (breakfast got especially rave reviews), and the staff. Many reviewers suggest spending the extra for a sea view room, or a room with a terrace.

Kayak users rate the hotel 9.6 out of 10 (a rating of “Wonderful”). Reviewers praise the “amazing staff” and “beautiful grounds.” reviewers put the hotel at an exceptional rating of 9.5/10 with 229 reviews. “This is one of the best resorts I’ve been in I have no words to describe this piece of art. Starting from the vintage rooms to the most delicious dinner, beach, staff, spa…” 

Important Details About Hotel Santavenere 


This vacation experience is all about being at the property and exploring the nearby villages and coast. It is not ideal for visiting more well-known tourist spots for day trips. Many guests embrace a stay here as a relaxing respite to a longer and more hectic Italian itinerary, as it’s perfectly located between Puglia and Naples/Amalfi Coast, and Rome.

The Italian high-speed train network has easy and frequent access connecting larger Italian cities like Florence, Rome, Venice, Milan, and Naples. We took a train from Arezzo (near Florence) at 7:50 am and arrived in Salerno, south Naples, by 11:30. We easily rented a car, had lunch in charming Salerno, and arrived at the resort in two hours. The nearby train station of Maratea connects to these larger train hubs with frequent service and the hotel provides transportation from the Maratea train station. Free parking is provided for guests.

The property

I live in Italy and travel often—the Hotel Santavenere is the closest I’ve come to entering into a dolce vita fantasy. 

The hotel is spacious, open, and perfectly sited to take advantage of views of the dramatic coastline from its expansive lobby, bougainvillea-covered terraces, balconies, and rooms. Looking inland is equally lovely with beautiful views of the perched village of Maratea, seated on the plateau of the hill above. Dominating a nearby peak is The Statue of Christ the Redeemer of Maratea, standing nearly 70 feet tall.

The architecture and decor have the clean and unfussy characteristics of mid-century modern, but balances that with loads of creature comforts. Throughout the lobby, handmade tiles by Vetri and ceramics from Minturno add soft colors that complement the antiques, and the space feels welcoming with comfortable groupings of overstuffed furniture.

tile floor and dog at Santavenere Hotel in Italy
Handmade tiles at Santavenere (Photo: Nancy Raff)

Since the property has been open since the 1950s, the expansive, well-manicured grounds have had time to develop mature trees, including delightful groupings of iconic umbrella pines.

Winding trails lead down the hill through trees to the sea, reaching sun beds placed on discretely placed terraces. Swimming access is either from the small, rocky beach or by a ladder which lets you plunge directly into the water. Staff is available to provide towels and to bring food and drinks from the restaurant, located at sea level.

swimming in the water near Santavenere Hotel
Taking an evening swim from the hotel (Photo: John Torcassi)

The newly built spa is nearly 5,000 square feet and features a Turkish bath, a Finnish sauna, a cold plunge pool, a Himalayan pink salt room, and a heated indoor pool offering hydrotherapy and chromotherapies treatments.  The spa offers a range of treatment types—including couples massages, facials, body scrubs, and epilation treatments. I had a fabulous massage—almost worth a return trip for that alone.

The pool is located up the hill at hotel level and is surrounded by comfortable sun beds. The pool is large and has a pleasingly curving shape. A shallow ledge surrounds almost the whole pool, which would be perfect for supervised children’s play. Lawns and olive groves nestle in next to the pool area.

There is a gym for cardio and strength training, including stationary bikes, treadmills, and weight benches, all with views of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Yoga classes are offered in the gardens and there is a tennis court.

All the areas are wheelchair accessible. There is no elevator in the hotel, but the rooms on the ground floor are easily connected with the gardens, restaurants, bar, spa, and pool area. The most difficult area to reach is the beach, but the hotel is happy to help out by providing golf cart rides to the beach/seaside area.

The hotel is now managed by Egnazia Ospitalita Italiana which also runs Borgo Egnazia—an “it” hotel in Puglia—site of the 2024 G7 Leaders Summit, among other select hotels in Italy.


The 34 guest rooms are spacious and provide every comfort. Our room was on the ground level and opened onto a private terrace with a table and chairs. The expansive bed was very comfortable and had those kind of melt-into-softness white, pressed sheets that I can never seem to replicate at home.

Colors were peaceful and warm, playing off of the handmade tiles on the floor.

Rooms feature tile floors, a flat screen TV, complimentary WiFi, and all the things you’d expect like a strong shower, mini-bar, coffee maker, safe, and air conditioning.


There are many fun adventures to have right outside the Santavenere gate. The small marina is a 20-minute walk away, the nearby ancient village of Maratea is worth a visit, as is going up to the 70-foot Christ the Redeemer statue—the twisting, elevated road up is nothing short of thrilling. We took an interesting tour of both that the hotel arranged.

The hotel is in the middle of where the Apennine Mountains, which run the length of Italy and meet the sea. The landscape is both beautiful and perfect for hiking and mountain biking. There are also a lot of caves in the area, some accessible by water. Boat trips to visit some of these caves, as well as fish, snorkel, and sightsee can by arranged by the hotel.

Beautiful picnics are a specialty of the hotel: reserve in advance to picnic on oversized furniture under the umbrella trees in the garden. Wine tasting, cooking classes and cocktail making sessions are also on offer here, as well as my favorite—a private dinner on the rocks terraces at water level, catered by Il Carrubo, that can be set up for private parties.

Further afield are Certosa di Padula (a Carthusian monastery) and the archaeological site of Paestum south-east of the Gulf of Salerno, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We visited Paestum on our way down from Salerno and were amazed by this well-preserved major ancient Greek city. 

Also nearby is the Parco Nazionale del Pollino, a national park that stretches across Basilicata and Calabria, and the Grotte di Pertosa-Auletta—the only caves in Italy where you can travel along an underground river and explore the remains of a stilt house village dating back to the 2nd millennium BC.

The Hotel Santavenere takes its guests’ explorations very seriously, offering an in-house experience coordinator who eager to help guests engage with the local community, customs, and crafts in a variety of ways.


The hotel has three restaurants. Le Lanterne, the main restaurant, adjoins the lobby and spills out to a large outdoor terrace. We had dinner here two nights and were impressed by the fresh, local fare which was highly seasonal. Seafood is the star, with several fresh fish presented table side for us to choose among, but a range of interesting meat and vegetarian items are also on the menu. The wine list is carefully selected and our waiters were knowledgeable about the food and wine options.

The breakfast buffet is served in Le Lanterne. The buffet was delicious and offered a large array of choices—all fresh, high quality and many local delicacies.

Adjoining the pool, and also overlooking the sea, is Gli Ulivi, a full-service restaurant and bar. It’s more casual and offers lighter dishes for those wanting to have a quick bite, brunch or aperitivo.

Down the hill, at water level, is Il Carrubo, open daily for lunch and for dinner at weekends. This restaurant is in a stunning setting at water’s edge and features a catch of the day— diners can choose their fish and specifying how they’d like it prepared. It is also available for private parties—picture candle-lit tables with white tablecloths by the surf, with an attentive, knowledgeable staff.

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Nancy Raff
Nancy Raff is an American expat who now lives full-time in Italy running her creative agency and sharing Italian adventures, destination advice, and recipes at