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View from our window, Granaio dei Casabella, Paestum
View from our window, Granaio dei Casabella, Paestum

Il Granaio dei Casabella, Paestum - hotel review

Il Granaio dei Casabella ***

Granaio dei Casabella, PaestumThe Granaio dei Casabella is a special place to stay in an unforgettable location. Paestum is a fantastic archaeological site where three Greek temples and a ruined town sit in the middle of countryside. There is only a small settlement scattered around the borders of the vanished ancient town, and not much choice of places to stay. The Granaio dei Casabella is an easy walk from the entrance to the museum and archaeological site, and is a convenient and charming base for visiting the ruins or even for a longer stay exploring the area.

We stayed for one night in May 2009, having made an online booking for a family room for 3 adults costing 120.
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About the hotel

A granaio is a granary and the Granaio dei Casabella is an attractive old agricultural building, now turned into a small hotel with a country house atmosphere. As soon as we entered on a hot day we could feel the coolness and sense of permanence provided by the thick walls of a historic building. The Granaio dei Casabella is furnished and decorated in keeping with its history, and feels more like a large countryside family home than a hotel.

The hotel doesn't have many rooms, and there were only a few other guests during our stay. Staff were all friendly and welcoming and spoke a certain amount of English. We found the atmosphere both welcoming and discreet. As well as a small green garden, with swinging chairs, a mulberry tree and a vineyard next door, the hotel had generous amounts of public space, including a sitting room containing fascinating agricultural artefacts and a garden room where we had breakfast. There were books and tourist information lying around for the use of guests.

Our bedroom

Our triple room, Granaio dei Casabella, Paestum

Our bedroom was on the top floor of the building (two flights of stairs to climb); a large room with a high sloping ceiling under the eaves. One narrow window looked out over the rural archaeological area, with a temple visible in the distance - a lovely view. The other windows faced over the leafy garden where birds were chirping. Reassuringly, they had mosquito grilles.

We'd booked a triple room and we found ample amounts of space for three adults. At one end of the bedroom was a double bed, and at the far end a single bed (which would have made a sofa if not in use). Furnishings were all old and heavy and probably original to the house - again we had the impression of being guests in a country home rather than anonymous clients of a modern hotel. There was everything needed for a comfortable modern stay, however - a desk, plenty of storage space, air-conditioning, a mini-bar and a bathroom with a shower. Although one of our windows faced over the road, I don't remember hearing any noise other than the morning sound of birds singing in the garden.

Meals

We were very unsure about eating in our hotel as in Italy you can generally find better food at local restaurants. However, there wasn't much choice in Paestum and we were tired after a long journey, so we booked a table. It was a lucky decision, as the meal turned out to be one of the most special evenings of our trip. The hotel restaurant, when we visited, was open only upon advance booking, and it was small and quiet. The two adjoining rooms were welcoming and attractive and the atmosphere was intimate and exclusive without being stuffy. The short menu was displayed on a blackboard and included fish and meat dishes as well as a vegetarian option. The waitress was helpful with suggestions and we sampled some good local products including delicious oozy buffalo mozzarella, artichoke-stuffed ravioli and fish. For dessert I enjoyed a piece of wonderful, moist, light strawberry cake that rates among the best desserts I've had in Italy.

There were two more delicious cakes - carrot and a lovely moist apple cake - on offer at breakfast, which was a buffet offering a generous selection of sweet and savoury items such as bread, honey, jams, cereals, yoghurt and fresh strawberries. The understanding waitress produced a coffee in the 'international' rather than Italian style to accommodate foreign guests.

Location

Our triple room, Granaio dei Casabella, Paestum

The hotel is just outside the wall of the old Greek city, and around a ten-minute walk from the main entrance to the archaeological site. The hotel has car parking. We arrived by train at Paestum station (a short journey from Salerno), and walked to the hotel, though it would have been possible to call the hotel or a taxi for a lift. Although pulling our suitcases along on a hot day was tiring, it was also quite magical to arrive at a little rural station and walk through countryside and ruins, past the sights, to arrive at our destination. The walk was probably just over a mile and took 25-30 minutes. From the railway station building, walk straight ahead to the archway in the old town walls which now stand in the countryside. Take the little road leading on from the archway, past haystacks, fields and hedges, until you reach the main road along the archaeological site. Turn right, passing little bars and souvenir shops on your right, and admiring the temples over the fence on your left. Keep walking past the site, until you reach Via Tavernelle, a turning to the left. This road runs along the outside of the ancient walls, and the hotel is a a short way down the road, on the right. The walk is quite level and, apart from the very last stretch, the roads are quiet. Look out for the lovely improvised garden nestling against the walls as you walk towards the hotel.

My recommendation

On an extended trip through southern Italy, my parents and I felt that Paestum was one of the real highlights of our travels, and our accommodation and meal at the Granaio dei Casabella played a large part in our Paestum experience. I'd strongly recommend staying the night in Paestum when you visit the temples, and staying at this hotel in particular. We felt it was a shame we only stayed one night, and on another occasion I'd consider booking several nights in the hotel and exploring more of the surrounding area.

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Paestum tourist information

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South to Calabria: a travel itinerary

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