Nestled in majestic solitude atop Italy’s transcendent Amalfi Coast, sits Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, a 17th century haven of ancient, cloistered rhythms and simple, breath-taking luxury.
Once home to an ancient order of Dominican nuns, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa preserves within its walls a private sanctuary of peace and solitude, a unique luxury atmosphere that is felt from within its very foundations and sweeping views of Amalfi.
From your sea-view boutique, cloistered room, where antique heritage sleeps with cool contemporary design, embrace the mantra of luxury found in simplicity with fine Italian linens that hug the bed in muted comforting tones. In the bathroom, enjoy the scents of soaps and bath salts sourced from Santa Maria Novella’s 17th century Dominican house, the oldest pharmacy in Europe. A menagerie of peace threaded with odes to a mystical, centuries’ old past, gaze out each window at the vast, calm blue of the Mediterranean Sea and watch as the light of the world’s most beautiful coastline of Amalfi pours in.
It was a moment prompted by fate that saw the careful and respectful renovation of Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, and yet even with God on its side, the restoration was over a decade in the doing.
Working side-by-side with Italy’s Cultural Heritage group and the finest local artisans, every aspect of the hotel’s unique and powerful history has been cherished and supported, from the distinct vaulted ceilings and dome-like arches that feature in each room, to confessionals, light fittings and chandeliers scattered throughout, all of which combine with considered contemporary accents and unmistakable luxe notes to make this a vaulted monastic paradise in the clouds.
Set amid the unmistakable Mediterranean scents of lemon trees, olive trees, bougainvillea and jasmine, as well as the subtle hues of those same medicinal herbs that were once used by the Dominican nuns to cure all who came to them, Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa sits on the Amalfi Coast in a beautiful four-tiered garden, modelled by a garden impresario of the Vatican itself, not a bad patron to have. Full of lush landscaping, a panoramic pool, a boutique open-air library bar, plentiful lounge chairs and canopied day beds - as well as a hidden gym for when all that award-winning food needs a little walk-off, surround yourself in a sky-high den of soulful serenity and blissful R+R.
This is a world that reverberates in an almost holy sense of calm. You are greeted by the ringing of the monastery’s ancient bell and sounds of beautiful Gregorian Chanting, before sinking into one of the best spots along the whole Amalfi Coastline, an earthly sneak peek at a truly heavenly abode.
Rhapsodized by John Steinbeck in 1953 as “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there but becomes beckoningly real after you are gone”, Italy’s Amalfi Coast has seduced writers, poets and artists for centuries, not to mention anyone else who has ever travelled its beautiful, winding coastal road.
Monastero Santa Rosa stands secluded along Amalfi’s famed Blue Highway, above the fishing village of Conca de Marini overlooking nearby historic village-town of Amalfi and just a 20-minute boat ride away from the Amalfi Coast’s most famous scenic towns: Positano and Ravello.
From Amalfi or Positano, you can then take a 20-minute ferry ride to the Bay of Naples’ ideal day trip destination, the famous island of Capri.
The Refettorio (Refectory), Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa Restaurant, is a foodie hotspot abundant in Mediterranean soul and was recently awarded its first Michelin Star.
Pioneered by Michelin Chef Christoph Bob (who moved to the ever-romantic Amalfi Coast for love of a woman,) The Refettorio is a 1-Star Michelin restaurant brimming with local produce and rooted, traditional cuisine - all with natural creative twists, of course.
From fresh vegetables and fragrant herbs all organically grown on the hotel’s own garden terrace, to pasta from Gragnano, the day’s catch of lobster or fish from the bountiful Tyrrhenian Sea, anchovies from Cetara and traditional artisan cheeses and the meats from the nearby “Monti Lattari”, The Refettorio Restaurant is an undoubted purveyor of rich Mediterranean flavours, where luxury is yet again, found in simplicity.
As Head Chef Christoph Bob says: “Nowhere else in the world do the sun and the earth give such a flavour intensity to vegetables, fruit and aromatic herbs.”
The wine list also excels, introducing to your palette the finest Italian and international wines, as well as lesser-known yet very high-quality varieties from local winemakers, including a selection from some of the Amalfi Coast’s on-the-rise and newly established growers, which Santa Rosa is directly helping to build up.
Head to the luxe bar after dinner for a lesson in extracting essential oils from herbs and plants, this time for cocktail uses, although we are sure they are just as medicinal as the nuns’ past creations, and indulge in another of the former inhabitants most famous (and delicious) outputs, the Santa Rose Sfogliatelle pastry, a variant of the well-known Neapolitan Sfogliatelle, which actually originated here in the 18th century.
A sanctuary of healing and comfort for centuries, each room within Monastero Santa Rosa’s Spa maintains its powerful monastic heritage through its timeless walls, peaceful arches and floating scents of flowers and aromatic healing oils, some of which were mixed for Catherine de Medici herself, from pomegranate, rosemary, lavender and sweet orange. The same atmosphere, aromatic oils and gentle healing techniques that were once employed by the nuns are reminiscent today in the spa’s updated versions, each of which nudge gently at continual moments of considered luxury and evocative heritage.
From the spa’s awe-inspiring double-height Tepidarium to being pampered outside in the Treatment Garden’s shaded pagoda, you can indulge in a series of special ‘you-time’ moments. Settle into the aromatic steam rooms or sweat it out in the rock sauna, drench yourself in calm with the hydro-pools and emotion showers before settling onto a treatment table for natural facials, candle massages, bespoke aromatic scrubs and views to heal the soul.
An American business woman and fine art and antiques dealer, the passionate and innovative entrepreneur, Bianca Sharma, first spotted the ruins of Monastero Santa Rosa from her boat when holidaying with friends along the Amalfi Coast. Instantly and intuitively, she knew it was meant for her to do something wonderful with.
Tenacious and brave, Bianca worked step by step for over a decade with Director Flavio Colantuoni, and refusing to give up on the delicate renovations in the face of mounting complexities.
Now a fully realised dream, Bianca Sharma is the driving force behind what is now one of the most stunning boutique hotels and spas along the face of the whole of Italy’s Amalfi Coastline, a cool cat compatriot and a true force to be reckoned with. Bianca, we salute you.
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