Monastero Santa Rosa
When the sun sets behind the Amalfi Coast’s Lattari Mountains and day turns to evening along Conca dei Marini, gaze your eyes up from the Gulf of Salerno to find a glow, “a superb vision which hovers over the coast like the wing of an angel.” Perched on the cliff’s edge, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa stands alone in majestic solitude, its rock base evoking the robe of a king. Originally a 17th-century monastery, Monastero Santa Rosa has been affectionately and respectfully restored into an exclusive boutique hotel and extraordinary luxury spa honoring its historic heritage. Ideally located between Positano and Amalfi, part of a coastline already boasting the most beautiful vistas in the world, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa sets a new standard for breathtaking panoramas seducing patrons with its heavenly allure for generations to come.
History of Monastero Santa Rosa
Imagine nuns cloaked in traditional white wool and black cap attire busy baking delectable cream-filled pastries within the kitchen of a sky-swimming 17th-century monastery perched on the most dramatic promontory of Conca dei Marini. Such is how it all began… The sisters baked exquisite handmade desserts. Their sfogliatelle, a shell-shaped, filled pastry, became known as ‘Santa Rosa.’ Bianca Sharma, the current owner of Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, plans to start a special tradition honoring the sisters and their heavenly sfogliatelle. In fact, with every step in the renovation process, Bianca considered the past. Reviving the spirit of Santa Rosa to keep its historical memory alive and relevant today became the owner’s steadfast purpose.
Originally built in the late 17th century, the monastery* came to life through the ambition of Sister Rosa Pandolfi, a descendant of the noble family Pontone di Scala who had taken up residence in Conca dei Marini. The antique church of Santa Maria di Grado, sadly reduced to ruins, was a gift to Sister Rosa. Having the means to make a difference, she funded the monastery’s construction built adjacent to the church for the ‘sacred virgins.’ Upon completion in 1681, the convent was dedicated to the glorious St. Rose of Lima.
Over the years the sisters contributed in many ways to the local community. Most notably the nuns provided funding for an aqueduct from Mount Vocito to Piazza Olmo to provide water for the inhabitants of Conca. Even today, a plaque stands near the piazza’s fountain in the town square commemorating this noble gesture. The sisters also became renowned not only for their aforementioned baking skills but also for their apothecary, concocting effective remedies to treat common afflictions. In the mid-1800s, however, the religious establishment was removed following the laws of eviction and the convent was handed over to the municipality.
Finally purchased by a Roman hotelier Mr. Marcucci, who recognized the property’s historic value, the old convent was transformed into a hotel in 1924. Esteemed for its authentic simplicity typical of monastic life, the Hotel Santa Rosa became one of the 39 castle hotels of Italy. The hotel’s motto was, “At each window, the sun. From each window, the sea.” To Bianca’s relief, the Caterina family who ran the hotel for three generations had the foresight to conserve the architectural foundations of the premises while implementing modern conveniences for guests. So the original architectural details remained. However, after the death of the Caterina family, the building was once again left without a purpose. Standing solitude on the edge of a cliff, the imposing structure became a lonely reminder of former glory, hospitality, and rich honorable history.
In 2000 Bianca was boating in the Gulf of Salerno and admiring the spectacular promontory towering above her. Her eyes rested on this majestic yet ruined monastery extending from but disappearing into the rock. She was instantly captivated, bought the property, moved to the Coast, and began her decade-long quest of restoring the former monastery into a luxury boutique hotel. Through Bianca’s endless dedication and careful instruction in conjunction with a local team of architects and historical authorities, the monastery’s structural integrity has been maintained. Thus the monastery’s original atmosphere remains ever present in her current design.
Since its origins the history of the Conca dei Marini village has always been intimately tied to the destiny of the convent. Bianca’s tireless efforts have enabled this bond to continue into the next century with the 2012 reopening of the monastery as a luxury hotel for locals and visitors from around the world to enjoy.**
*A monastery designates a place for a religious community of male or female who live a sequestered life in the structure.
**Historical references from Conca dei Marini