Why go?

Basilicata, also called Lucania, was a little-known region of Italy, sitting on the country’s instep with beach life on two coasts – until first Mel Gibson, choosing the dramatic landscape outside Matera as a backdrop for The Passion of the Christ, then film-maker Francis Ford Coppola with the opening of an intimate resort an hour from Materaput, put this enchanting area on the map.

Activities

Matera, perched on rocky outcrops overlooking a plain, is the dramatic jewel in the crown of the former Lucania. This lovely town is famous for its amazing cave dwellings, which have been designated a World Heritage Site. These Sassi, as they’re known, were once urban slums, but are today full of chic galleries, shops and restaurants – the elegant San Pietro Barisano restaurant is recommended for dinner.

Activities on offer at Coppola's Palazzo Margherita resort include cooking lessons, – where children can learn to make their own pizzas and pasta – watersports at local beach clubs and family picnics on the cobalt shores of the Ionian. There are tennis courts nearby, and the Pollino National Park, with its stunning mountain trails, ancient forests and diverse wildlife, is an hour away. In the park, the Luna Rossa is a great place to enjoy a rich, rustic lunch with spectacular valley views.

Accommodation

The Locanda delle Donne Monache, half-way up the hill, has a lovely pool, a family-friendly restaurant and amusing art sure to pique children’s interest. A few miles down the coast at Acquafredda, Il Gabbiano is an affordable family-friendly hotel with a strip of private, grey-sand beach as well as a pool and a good fish restaurant, where you can pick your choice of the day’s super-fresh catch for the grill.

Price: Kuoni offers seven nights with breakfast at the Locanda delle Donna Monache in Maratea for £3,685 for a family of two adults and two children sharing two rooms, including flights.

However, this is a long way from Matera, where one night could be spent alongside four nights at the Palazzo Margherita, £2,743 for two adults and two children sharing two rooms, including breakfast and cooking lessons.

The lowdown

How to get there: A British Airways fly-drive costs from £199 per person into Bari, including five days' Avis car hire, allowing the time and flexibility to explore Matera en route for flights home from Naples.

Travel time: Flights from London, 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Accommodation: The Locanda delle Donne Monache, half-way up the hill, has a lovely pool, a family-friendly restaurant and amusing art sure to pique children’s interest. A few miles down the coast at Acquafredda, Il Gabbiano is an affordable family-friendly hotel with a strip of private, grey-sand beach as well as a pool and a good fish restaurant, where you can pick your choice of the day’s super-fresh catch for the grill.

Price: Kuoni offers seven nights with breakfast at the Locanda delle Donna Monache in Maratea for £3,685 for a family of two adults and two children sharing two rooms, including flights.

However, this is a long way from Matera, where one night could be spent alongside four nights at the Palazzo Margherita, £2,743 for two adults and two children sharing two rooms, including breakfast and cooking lessons.