Heavenly Drinks

The Hotel Monastero Santa Rosa is a former monastery perched on top of a cliff overlooking the water

By Gail Hammer

A lovely retreat from the hustle and bustle of the Amalfi Coast is the Santa Rosa Hotel and Spa.

I discovered this amazing, carefully-restored 17th century monastery quite by chance when I met a group of American women in Praiano. They were on their way to the monastery as its owner, Bianca Sharma, came from their home town.

As she explains in the hotel’s website, “Bianca was boating in the Gulf of Salerno in 2000, admiring the spectacular promontory towering above her. Her eyes rested on this monastery, in ruins yet majestic, that extended from but disappeared 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”.

While I was not in the market for a hotel/spa, I became curious.

So, soon after I met these women, my husband and I took a short ride just before sunset to Conca dei Marini (a town between Positano and Amalfi).

I did not expect something as special as what I found. The stunning monastery is perched on top of a cliff in the upper part of the town, overlooking the water.

After a tour of the hotel, just 20 rooms, all suites, in a large ancient structure, a very hospitable host invited us to visit the spa, with its treatment rooms, sauna, steam room and wonderful mosaic-tiled shower and hydro pool.

After that, we decided to have a drink in the middle of beautiful, restful landscaped gardens. From the dining and bar terraces a series of multi-level cascading gardens of bougainvillea, lavender, agapanthus, coreopsis, rosemary, roses, pomegranate and lemon trees with sweeping panoramic views of land, sea, and sky, end with a dramatic cliff-edge infinity pool.

As the colors of the sunset started to appear over the horizon the bartender brought us two wonderful orange camparis.

Service and view were all worth the trip to Conca. We drank the camparis and ate the wonderful snacks that came with them while sitting and relaxing for quite a long time.

Then we promised ourselves a return visit.

Since then, we repeatedly have gone back many times for drinks, as we found the Santa Rosa’s wonderful and serene atmosphere absolutely unique for the busy Amalfi Coast.

For those who are not interested in the hotel or its spa, I strongly suggest a visit just for drinks – or for dinner.

The Amalfi Coast’s most well-known towns are Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, three jewels, each with its own unique character and beauty and all world renowned. But at the heart of the Costiera is a fourth jewel, Praiano, a less hectic and more authentic town, where many discerning tourists have begun to stay, using it as a base for their Amalfi Coasting. Try Praiano, trust us!

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