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May 17, 2012

Amalfi Coast: From the Sacred to the Sumptuous

A storied monastery becomes one of Italy's most breathtaking new hotels.

Along the coastal road between Positano and Amalfi — two of the greatest hits on Italy’s famed Amalfi Coast — lies a town that has barely registered on the tourist radar: Conca dei Marini.

But that’s about to change.

A 17th-century monastery clinging to the cliffs of Conca dei Marini has been brought back to life as a small luxury hotel, Monastero Santa Rosa, open this month. With vaulted ceilings and original architectural details, each of the 20 sea-view rooms is named after an herb grown in the hotel’s organic garden. (Those herbs are, of course, used by the hotel’s chef, who worked for Alain Ducasse in Paris.)

The property features a cliff-edge infinity pool and a private 12th-century chapel surrounded by flowering gardens (hello dream wedding!). The spa will soon feature a “tepidarium” (a warm relaxation room), with soaring double-height ceiling, heated mosaic benches and whirlpool footpaths. There will be an indoor hydrotherapy pool, too.

Water, of course, is one of Conca dei Marini’s best assets: the famous Emerald Grotto is tucked away in its bay, and is known for emerald waters and an underwater nativity scene. The town’s other claim to fame is tied closely to the hotel — the nuns who once resided in the monastery are believed to have invented the celebrated Neapolitan pastry sfogliatella (its shell shape is supposed to resemble a nun’s hood).

That’s a very big deal, you know. After all, there is an old saying that goes: Naples has three beautiful things — the sea, Vesuvius and the sfogliatella.

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read more: 02. Sleep | boutique | historic | romantic | secluded | unusual | 03. Spa | 05. Eat


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