Basilicata, Italy

Palazzo Margherita

Rates from (inc tax)$385.55

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (21EUR), via, using today’s exchange rate.


Don-worthy decadence


Coppola’s ancestral comune

Francis Ford Coppola has made Palazzo Margherita as grand as any Cinecittà film set (it’s not mere whimsy that the bar is named after the famed Roman studio), perhaps the reason why many A-listers have flocked to the sleepy 15th-century town of Bernalda to grace its gilded, fresco-embellished suites. However, the Palazzo’s bucolic locale and a code of silence among loyal fans of its elite home-from-home atmosphere have ensured that its cinematic salons, lavish landscaped gardens and home-made Italian fare stay out of the spotlight; keeping it as intimate and laid back as a palace can be. 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

For guests staying one night, a bottle of local wine; guests staying two nights or more get a three-course meal for two (including a starter, first and second course, fruit and house wine) instead


Photos Palazzo Margherita – Basilicata – Italy

Need to know


Nine, including seven suites.


11am. Earliest check-in 2pm, but both are flexible subject to availability.


Double rooms from $385.55 (€355), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €5.00 per person per night on check-out.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR390.01), via, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates include breakfast, in-room drinks and cooking lessons with the Palazzo’s chefs. The minimum stay is two nights.


The Salon, inspired by neo-realist maestro Luchino Visconti, doubles up as a screening room. The hotel has a well-populated library of classic Italian films, which are screened on a regular basis, or you can arrange a private showing.

Hotel closed

Open all year round.

At the hotel

Screening room, a movie library, a selection of games and cards, free WiFi and bicycles are free to hire. In-room: Loewe HDTV, Blu-ray DVD player, Apple TV, iPod dock, free minibar and Santa Maria Novella bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Suite Four was designed by Francis’ daughter and acclaimed director, Sofia Coppola and has a spacious bathroom with a hammam and chromatherapy shower. The decor is lavish yet tasteful, with pastel-shaded frescoes, chevron floor tiles, lacy wall friezes and a small garden-view terrace.


Take a flower-scented dip in the outdoor pool hidden at the foot of the hotel’s sprawling gardens. There’s a bar close by the secluded swimming area, so you can kick back on a day-bed with a cocktail while gazing out over the winding fruit tree-lined pathways and gently swaying palms.

Packing tips

A camera to capture the hotel’s grandeur for envy-making tales once you arrive home; or even better, make like a Coppola and get some film footage of the surrounding scenery.


Elegant and friendly general manager Rossella is happy to arrange private yoga or pilates lessons and massages in your room. She also sources all the Palazzo's ingredients, so be sure to quiz her about her knowledge of the local gastronomy.


Pets not allowed. See more pet-friendly hotels in Basilicata.


Rooms are spacious enough to fit a family and the staff are accommodating, but delicate decorative features and manicured gardens require well-behaved bambinos.


The hotel uses exclusively locally sourced organic ingredients in its meals and some are grown in the gardens. The building has been sensitively restored to cultural heritage standards, but there have been some subtle solar panels added to keep it energy efficient.

Food and Drink

Photos Palazzo Margherita – Basilicata – Italy

Top Table

Ask the staff to set up the gazebo table in the garden with candles –the idyllic combination of low light and lush surroundings will rouse a smile from even the most cynical Smith.

Dress Code

Despite its regal setting, the hotel’s casa-from-casa style means there’s no need to put on airs and graces, and there’s no risk of nose-diving monocles if you swan up to the kitchen table in your swimwear.

Hotel restaurant

To encourage a home-from-home atmosphere, guests can dine at the eat-in kitchen or in the courtyard if they wish, but there’s no official restaurant on site. Food is locally sourced (or brought from Puglia if unavailable nearby) and dishes are deceptively simple. Sausage with rocket or grilled pork rib may sound like frugal fare for such elaborate surroundings, but tuck in and you’ll find it’s the melt-in-mouth unctuous, flavoursome fare Italians excel in. Home-fired pizzas are also available in the evenings. A Continental breakfast buffet is served each morning, with local meats and cheeses, home-made cakes and croissants, cereal, fruit and lashings of strong coffee.

Hotel bar

Three: The Cinecittà Bar (named after the famed Roman film studio), which serves Illy coffee and wood-fired pizzas on a terrace overlooking the town square; a poolside bar; and the Family Bar; an elaborate space with salvaged furnishings, including the Palazzo’s original chandelier and a vintage bar from Turin, and walls dressed in retro Le Manach fabric.

Last orders

Breakfast is served from 7:30am to 11am, lunch from 12 noon to 3pm. Guests can tuck into a home-made pizza from 7pm to 12pm, and a light menu is available in the courtyard or garden throughout the day.

Room service

The full room service menu of rustic Italian fare can be enjoyed until 11pm. From 11pm–7am a range of snacks and paninis are available.


Photos Palazzo Margherita – Basilicata – Italy
Palazzo Margherita
Corso Umberto I, 64


Bari Airport and Brindisi Salento Airport are both about a 90-minute drive away and serve flights from Italian cities and some European destinations (including London Gatwick and Munich). Transatlantic flights and flights across the Pacific connect at Milan or Rome Fiumicino airports to both Puglian airports.


The hotel is a 15-minute drive from Metaponto station, from which you can catch a direct line to Rome or Bari Airport using Trenitalia.


The hotel’s unspoilt scenic surrounds remain so because Bernalda’s off the beaten track, so a car is essential to navigate the winding countryside roads. Luckily the hotel’s spot-on service includes valet parking too.

Worth getting out of bed for

Bernalda is a petite and peaceful mediaeval comune with a few frescoed adobe-style churches and a smattering of historic monuments, such as the Castle of Bernalda. It’s a sleepy place so if you leave the hotel you may want to drive out into Matera, a province that has been used as the backdrop for many historic films due to its changeless ancient scenery. The prehistoric cave dwellings known as Sassi di Matera are some of the earliest settlements in Italy. Located 40 minutes from the hotel, you can find panoramic views of this photogenic area from the surrounding hills and an illuminated night-time visit offers a glimpse into ancient history. The Musma di Matera (+39 0835 330582) is housed in a decaying palazzo, offering a much more dramatic backdrop to the modern Italian art displayed within than the typical white-wall gallery space. If you grow tired of crumbling monuments, you can adjourn to the seashore, where a few suitable-for-sunbathing areas are dotted along the Ionian coast; the hotel can arrange access to beach clubs on Marina di Pisticci's pristine white sands. Matera is also renowned for viticulture and gastronomy, and any wine enthusiasts should make the two-hour pilgrimage to Grifalco vineyard, one of very few locations in Italy where Aglianico del Vulture red wine is produced; dubbed ‘the best red in the country’ by Italian food and wine magazine, Gambero Rosso. The hotel can arrange a guide to regale you with the history of this 12th-century vineyard before guests dive in to a lunchtime tasting. For something to accompany your rare vintage, join the palazzo’s chef Tommaso at Bernalda’s farms and fish markets to cherry pick from his inimitable knowledge of country cuisine.

Local restaurants

Bernalda may be petite, but its restaurants use the fabulous local farm fare to create tempting rustic menus. The Trattoria La Locandiera (+39 0835 543241) offers hand-made pasta, meat and fish dishes that veer away from run-of-the-mill Italian fare, such as cod-milk pie with caponata and balsamic vinegar. The food is beautifully presented on wooden trenchers and the gingham tablecloths, rustic bric-a-brac and piles of books make this cosy trattoria feel like a family home. Unusually for this pasta-producing province, they offer a selection of gluten-free dishes. Da Fifina (+39 0835 543134), just across the road from Palazzo Margherita, serves fabulous seafood and tantalising pasta in laid-back surroundings. La Corte (+39 0835 548509) is a bijou trattoria with vaulted stone ceilings and no-nonsense dishes made with local pasta and meat. For a light lunch with a kick, visit Cantine Del Notaio (+39 335 6842483), a vineyard an hour and a half's drive away on the slopes of Mount Vulture, with cellars that date back to the 13th century. The locally sourced lunch is said to be very good, but it’s the highly drinkable Basilicata wine that’s the star of the show here.


Photos Palazzo Margherita – Basilicata – Italy

Anonymous review

Mr Smith and I have stayed in many hotel rooms over the years, but we can’t recall having had an ensuite bar before. Just outside our door is a Seventies-meets-Art-Nouveau room with little café tables and walls covered in stretched Le Manach fabric (despite belonging to film director Francis Ford Coppola, the restored palazzo is more general pattern than General Patton, thanks to the handiwork of decorator Jacques Grange). ‘I feel like I’m in Montmartre,’ says Mr Smith, eyeing up the purple and mahogany colour scheme. They say that absinthe makes the heart grow fonder, but this is southern Italy, and a glass of vivid-orange Aperol has us gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes.

We roll off the bar stools and into our suite. Mr Smith immediately sets to work fathoming the Loewe telly with the expertise of a Bletchley Park code breaker, and locates a lengthy list of movies – mainly Italian classics – which has been personally curated by Coppola. The bed is quite spectacularly large, although in this room it only just looks big enough. ‘I wonder if there’s a severed horse’s head in there?’ I remark wittily, but the Godfather reference is lost on Mr Smith. Having discovered the complimentary Santa Maria Novella toiletries, I have a soak in the roll-top Devon & Devon bathtub. Mr Smith decides to road test the shower, which is more sit-in than walk-in, with a Silvestrin-inspired marble bench.

Scented in herbally Florentine monastic cloaks, we sashay downstairs for a perambulation in the formal gardens. They are breathtakingly beautiful, with palms, fragrant climbers, a fountain and a long covered pergola. Francis’s daughter Sofia got married here, and it’s an undeniably romantic setting. Right at the back of the plot is the swimming pool. Rather than ubiquitous sea blue, the lining of the pool is an inky colour that gives the water a fabulous moodiness. ‘That’s Black Blue by Farrow & Ball,’ says Mr Smith, ‘the same as our front door at home.’ It’s good to know he’s been concentrating.

Staying at Palazzo Margherita really is like staying in a family home (if they’re a rather affluent bunch). You can eat anywhere you like, at pretty much any time you like. It’s the middle of the afternoon, and we decide to have lunch by the pool. A table is set up in the shade, with a vase of flowers from the garden, and we dine on pearl barley with herb pesto, and linguine with green beans and cacioricotta. Having devoured the palazzo’s immaculate home-made pasta, later we have a go at making some ourselves. We join some other guests in the kitchen, where we knead balls of dough around the dining table. The chef patiently shows us how to roll the knife with just the right amount of pressure to create delicate orechiette, or ‘little ears’. Mr Smith’s look more like mangled noses – perhaps something got lost in translation? Nevertheless, his efforts go into the cooking pot with all of the others, and we help to make a simple sauce with fresh tomatoes, basil and a surprising amount of the starchy cooking water. I have a go at tossing the sauce, and splatter it all over the cooker.

After all of that hard work we’re in need of a TV dinner, and we retire to the grand salon on the first floor. It turns out that the chandelier is electrically operated, and it rises seamlessly to the ceiling while an enormous cinema screen drops down behind it. ‘This is better than our local Odeon,’ observes Mr Smith. Occasionally there is a knock at the door and a new dish is ushered forth, revealed from beneath a silver cloche: paccheri pasta in perfectly al dente ribbons, tender sliced beef in sweet vincotto, and Margherita cake, a sort of Italian black forest gateau with boozy cherries. The whole experience brings new meaning to the term ‘movie theatre’.

The following day, after a breakfast of croissants, three different types of cake and a leaning tower of fruit, we motor to Matera, a jaw-dropping Unesco World Heritage site and the backdrop for many a big-screen adventure. The town is famous for its Sassi – meaning Old Stones – comprised of ancient little dwellings dug out of the rock. While Mr Smith accesses his inner caveman, I search out the local jewellery shop, having been tipped off by one of the receptionists at the palazzo. Laden down by my new copper pipe and agate necklace, we trundle off to Musma, the Museum of Contemporary Sculpture. Modern works of art are displayed inside the hewn tufa rock of the centuries-old Sassi – it’s an unexpected delight.

Back at the hotel, it’s time to eat again, and we pull up a stool at the Cinecittà Bar. This place has its own dedicated pizzaiolo from Naples. He gives us a masterclass in the art of dough-stretching before serving up a variety of tempting toppings – despite the name, it’s not just tomato-and-mozzarella margheritas at the palazzo. Surrounded by black-and-white photographs of vintage movie stars, feeling like a right couple of Coppolas, we enjoy a suitably filmic end to an Oscar-deserving stay.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Palazzo Margherita’s Guestbook below.

We loved

Beautiful grounds, hotel staff could not have been more attentive. Lovely breakfast and dinner in the courtyard. Fun night watching movie in private screening room.

Don’t expect

Anything lively.


Stayed on 19 Sep 2016

We loved

Everything - the palazzo is beautifully appointed and tastefully decorated. We were upgraded to a beautiful garden suite. The staff were unfailingly hospitable and pleasant to have around. By the end of our stay they were like family members and we were as sorry to leave them as the palazzo. They hadn't forgotten that it was my boyfriend's birthday and surprised us with a wonderful small cake after dinner on our first night. One of our highlights was having dinner in the salon and seeing a film from Francis' Italian cinema library. Peter enjoyed the pizza lesson and I loved the tranquillity and elegant intimacy of the place. Thank you so much for such a lovely time.

Don’t expect

Anything mediocre


Stayed on 4 Apr 2016

We loved

Exceptional service. Delicious and moderately priced food. Tranquil and excellent design. Dinner and a movie in the screening room. Take the cooking class. Perfect for couples and those seeking wonderful solitude

Don’t expect

Property is small. No need to wear your Sunday best - keep it casual


Stayed on 25 Aug 2015

We loved

Everything! The magical garden, the service, the warmth of the staff, the attention to detail such as a complimentary aperitivo upon our arrival and cold bottles of water given to us at the front door before we set out each day to explore. The best thing was being in a part of Italy that is not (yet) overrun by tourists. The town of Bernalda is a sleepy town full of families who have been there for generations. Not one souvenir shop in sight!

Don’t expect

Incredible beaches - particularly if you are from Australia or the US. There is lots to explore around the hotel but it's not a spectacular landscape like Tuscany or the Amalfi coast. The hotel is definitely the jewel in the crown.


Stayed on 25 Jul 2015