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Prayers, massages and sfogliatelle: invitation to the village on the Amalfi Coast

Benedetta Costiera for an end of summer vacation between the sacred and the profane. Where is it? A few minutes from Amalfi, with a stop in Conca dei Marini, the third most beautiful village in Italy, ( decreed by the recent contest “Borgo dei Borghi” , promoted by the transmission Rai Kilimanjaro) in the landscape of the most evocative in the world, sung and painted from artists of all ages, since the Grand Tour, to immerse themselves “soul & body” in the seventeenth-century monastery of Santa Rosa , one of the most beautiful and important historical residences of the Amalfi Coast, transformed into an exclusive boutique hotel with spa and area thermal that alone is worth the trip (it is masterfully obtained in what were the cellars and rainwater cisterns of the monastery) that usually closes at the end of summer.

This year, however, for the first time, the monastery extends its opening to the bridge in early November: an opportunity not to be missed to experience the mild climate of the summer of San Martino and an off-season experience seasoned by “virgin” traditions and virtuous “. With a dash of healthy vices for vacationers: from tastings (food & wine) to dedicated massages.

So we enter the magical “enclosure” of a unique place in the world, itself overloaded with exaggerated beauty that the special effects certainly do not serve (indeed would be inappropriate) and where the motto is in force (which – not surprisingly – is also the password to access the wi-fi ed ) wanted by the owner, the American Bianca Sharma and the talented director Flavio Colantuoni: the “luxury of simplicity”.

The cells of the nuns, for example, have now become the rooms, one different from the other, connected to give more room to the rooms: 12 rooms and 8 suites in all that have taken the Latin name of the officinal plants of the garden ( Rosmarinus, Lavandula, Salvia) and have kept the characteristic vaulted ceilings (from the outside easily identifiable by their dome shape) to preserve discretion and “monastic” intimacy in the highest luxury.

Not more than 40 guests, therefore, in that dwelling that since 1681, on the ruins of the ancient church of Santa Maria di Grado, became “the spiritual home” of the abbess sister Rosa Pandolfo, descendant of a rich and noble Italian family, who had always expressed the desire to build a monastery next to the church to house the “sacred virgins”. And so that monastery was dedicated to Santa Rosa da Lima , who had taken the vows of the third Dominican order: the nuns put at the disposal of the community their own pharmaceutical knowledge, preparing medicines and remedies for the most common diseases, but they were also appreciated for the their culinary virtues; The famous sfogliatella di Santa Rosa is born from one of their recipes, a variant of the Neapolitan curly sfogliatella, which in the morning the hotel waiter serves on a hot baked terrace in the daily good morning (written in letters also on the plates and hand-painted cups) to the hotel guests on the notes of the live harp .

Around 1866, following the subversive laws of the ecclesiastical axis, the religious settlement was forced to move and the monastery was abandoned. And in the centuries between first negligence and then management of local entrepreneurs the building finally became a charming hotel distinguished by the motto: “At every window the sun, from every window the sea”. But after various vicissitudes, the hotel was abandoned and forgotten and again left to neglect.

In 1999 Lady Sharma , an American entrepreneur, widow with two children (today adults and married) of Ken Sharma, or “mister Texas Instruments”, who built her immense fortune on the electronics, during a cruise with friends in the Gulf of Salerno , was literally “kidnapped” by the poignant and lonely beauty of this abandoned building that he saw from the sea. He decided to buy the building and turn it into one of the best hotels and spas in the world. Thanks to the collaboration of a team of architects and artisans, a meticulous restoration of the monastery took place immediately, aimed at preserving its spiritual and historical atmosphere and at the same time providing itself with all the modern comforts necessary to make it an inimitable stop.

Since 2012, the White Sharma Dream became a reality.

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