Conca dei Marini
Conca dei Marini
Monastero Santa Rosa’s home is in Conca dei Marini, the utopian coastal fishing village built up and down towering Monte San Pancrazio with every idyllic motif—seaside harbor with bronzed fisherman, tiny chapel and charming beach, hillside churches and weathered pastel cottages, and turquoise sea. Conca dei Marini, Latin for “basin of the sea,” is one of the coast’s tranquil alternatives to crowded Positano and Amalfi and a known favorite of Jacqueline Kennedy, who used to lunch at the Hotel Santa Rosa when the Marcucci family owned this famed “castle hotel of Italy.”
In ogni finestra il sole, da ogni finestra il mare. The phrase, which means “in every window the sun, from every window the sea,” was used to describe the original Hotel Santa Rosa and in recent times has been adopted by the locals to describe Conca. Spend a day exploring this placid town on foot inhaling its fresh mountain air and sea views just outside the Monastery Santa Rosa’s entrance. The best way to experience Conca is to scale Monte San Pancrazio via one of the rock-cut staircases that vertically ribbon the town. The stairs provide the only route to four quintessential hillside churches perched along the northern reaches, notably San Pancrazio and Sant’Antonio da Padova. San Pancrazio is surrounded by exotic palms and houses compelling “ex voto” from surviving sailors from the area. A half mile west of the main piazza along the Via Roma is the sky swimming church of Sant’ Antonio, suspended over the Bay. From any point, glance over the cliff to find the 16th-century square stone Saracen tower stoically topping the Capo di Conca promontory. The rocky headland jutting out into the Mediterranean sits further out than any coastal tower and was the villager’s first line of defense centuries ago. At the very bottom of the steps, sits the tiny harbor of Marina di Conca which not only contains one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy but also the divine little chapel Madonna delle Neve. Grab a fish dish and wine at La Tonnarella for lunch or dinner and soak in this seaside harbor gem before ascending the long climb back to Monastero Santa Rosa.
Reached by land or ferry, Grotta dello Smeraldo, the Emerald Grotto, is another Conca dei Marini marvel. Although Capri’s Grotto Azzurro is more well known, Conca’s grotto shines brightest with its under sea “presepe” (the scene of the birth of Christ). Discovered by local fisherman in awe of its bewildering stalactites and stalagmites as high as 10 meters, take guided boat tours of the interior of the cave and witness for yourself the shocking green glowing waters igniting the dark cave.
The most celebrated night of the year in the Conca is the evening of June 13th honoring the festival of Sant’ Antonio di Padova. The patron saint’s figure is paraded around the village followed by a religious procession involving the entire town complete with an accompanying band of musicians. Dance and sing the night away, then return to your luxury hotel in the sky.