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Locanda delle Donne Monache

From: Maratea, Italy

Maratea - Mother Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

ABOVE: The swimming pool of the Locanda delle Donne Monache is just visible next to the town's "Mother Church" of Santa Maria Maggiore.

If you're a Sound of Music fan and have always dreamed of following Maria into (and out of) a nunnery, the Locanda delle Donne Monache will fill the bill without requiring that you take vows of poverty and obedience--or chastity, either, to judge from the basket of condoms next to Room 9's sunken bathtub.

The four-star hotel occupies a convent in Maratea, Italy, an ancient town built on the slopes of Mt. San Biagio about three hours south of Naples. (The convent dates back to 1735.) Many of the 27 rooms and suites overlook the tiled roofs of the village, while others face a pool terrace and gardens that have an ancient church and stuccoed houses as a backdrop.

The decor blends the ancient with the modern. In the small reception area, a huge wall clock driven by large gears, weights, and bicycle chains looks like something designed by a 21st Century Leonardo da Vinci. In the rooms that I visited, black wrought-iron beds were wrapped in curtains of striped red ticking, while sofas (in suites only) were upholstered in an off-white fabric that complemented the whitewashed or subtly tinted plaster walls.

Rooms and suites

The Locanda's guest accommodations are scattered over several floors, and each room is unique. All have private bath, air conditioning, satellite TV, radio, and telephone. Room service is available 24 hours a day.

Suites  are larger than rooms, but not dramatically so: In the two suites that I visited, the sitting areas were small and rather narrow--more like entrance foyers with sofas than living rooms.

Bathrooms range from adequate to luxurious. If you're on a honeymoon or romantic getaway, you'll definitely want to splurge on Room 9, where the multilevel bathroom is a grotto carved into the rocky hillside.

Dining

The Locanda has an excellent restaurant, Il Sacello, which features specialties from the Basilicata region of italy.

Booking

The hotel has a Web site at www.locandamonache.com with pages in Italian and English.



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