South Coast of Salerno,
Lago Trasimeno street
84098 Pontecagnano - Salerno
Tel. (+39) 089 203 004
Fax. (+39) 089 203 458
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After Praiano , just past the tiny picturesque harbour . Marina di Praia , which is protected by the watch-tower of assiola , the coast road leads to the viaduct spanning the dizzying heights of the fjord at Furore . The Schiatro stream flowing down the mountain face once turned the wheel of a paper mill whose presence confirms that in bygone years this narrow cove was used as a delivery point for goods right until the coast road was finally opened the last century .The seemingly never –ending steps wind their way over the mountain ridge as far as the upper part of the village , which is perched on the hills of San Elia , San Michele and San Giacomo and extends over area of almost two square kilometres . The Church of saint Elijah (Sant Elia ) , built in 1478, contains a triptych of the Virgin . St Elijah and St Bartholomew ( 1482) painted by Angelo Antonello da Capua and considered one of the most important art works to be seen along the Coast . Carrying on along the trunk road , visitors come to an opening on the right which overlooks Conca dei Marini and stands directly above the Emerald Grotto , one of the largest and most famous of the coastal grottos . Discovered in 1932 , it measures 45 metres by 32 metres . Daylight filters thought an entrance way which lies almost 12 metres underwater , causing it to refract and change colour , re-appearing as an intense emerald green inside the cavern . The changes in sea level over the years are evidenced by the columns of stalactites and stalagmites , some of which actually rise up out the water . These are numerous indications that the grotto is karstic in origin . From a biological point of view , there is a predominance of sea sponges which , given the lack of light , have lost their natural colour due to the presence of small symbiotic algae .
Among the most important coelenterates to be found in the area is the rare Anemonactis mazely . This actinia usually hides from the light and lives buried in the sea bed , only coming out cloaked in a bright pink colour to made during the winter months . By land the grotto can be reached by lifts from the road above or by a flight of steps with a spectacular view of the coastline , or by sea by anchoring at the small quay in front of the entrance . At the Capo di Conca headland , a Massive tower named after Charles V watches over the coastline . In 1543 the rowers of five Turkish galleys disembarked here and ransacked the Church of St Pancrazio ( Chiesa di San Pancrazio ). Stripping it of its art treasures . In response , the local inhabitants decided to build a tower after receiving authorisation from Charles V. Extending across the mountain ridge , the municipality of Conca dei Mrini lies slightly higher than the tower almost 200 metres above sea level . It consists of ( two villages , Tovere and Vettica Minore , whose church and majolica –tiled bell-tower is home to the Madonna of the Rosary ( 16th century) attributed to the Sienna painter , Marco Pino . down ar the bottom of the Capo della vite promontory at sea level stands the tower bearing the same name . Built between 1569 -70 , this tower has a large barrel-vaulted room whose spacious embrasured terrace houses the guardroom .
Conca dei Marini
It’s called Conca dei marini (seafarers’basin ) but a more appropriate name would be Conca Di Cielo (heaven’s basin) . in other words , there is a touch of the divine in this village . Its houses are not amassed , but scattered here and they are all surrounded by greenery , they are neither tall nor haughty , they are one –family homes built simply in accordance with tradition : small cushion –shaped cupolas , small roofed balconies , and external stairs .they are white , their thick walls have rounded edges , and are not framed by eaves . From the sea one can pick them out quite easily because Conca is like a large book laid open on the hills as if on a book –rest Originally this land was called Cossa and Scholars say that it was a Province of ancient Rome. It is small , but perhaps one day is not enough to visit it .
Its “Emerald Grotto” , a cave nested in the silent , solemn folds of the coastal hem , is quite unique. Raffaele Calzini wrote that in Conca there is also a “retired” Naturally it is most beautiful one of all the coast because it is perched atop a picturesque , mighty promontory towering above incredibly blue waters .The sea-shore village is a delightful sight with its small houses rising almost on the water line and the small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows which every year becomes a blaze of colour and light for the celebrations of the fifth of Augusto.
Jaqueline Kennedy , the Queen of Holland and Gianni Agnelli have all been here to swim in these waters . The coast is particularly suited to fishing , including the fishing of precious coral : in summer specialized divers come here to seek it on the underwater rocks. Up on high stands the former convent, now a hotel that bears the same name , where the famous “sfogliatella” was invented in the 18th century. Conca is the perfect place for a sojourn. It is a cheerful place and it cheerfully welcomes its visitors .
“ The Sogliatella “
If you happen to climb up the meandering road that from the Amalfi leads up to Agerola perched aloft on the mountain top , when you come into sight of the unmistakable shape of majestic , austere building set midway between sky and sea, stop in your steps , don’t go any further . You have come upon the former Santa Rosa Convent , the ancient residence of Dominican nuns , now a hotel bearing the same name . It is here , in this delightful , secluded spot that the world renowned “ santarosa sfogliatella “was born , the fruit of the inventiveness and skilfulness of nuns who decided to christen their sweet creation with the name of the 17th century Monastery.
No effort is needed to imagine , in the silence of the cloisters , the laborious brisk activity of the meek nuns who, with the meticulousness typical of liturgical rites , get to work with flour , sugar and milk to create the suggestive shape and blonde colour of that exquisite cake whose taste and flavour are unparalleled . The idea of creating the “sfogliatella “which dates from the early decades of the 18th century , first crossed the minds of the nuns in one of those days every two weeks-when they were used to baking the bread necessary for convent use . As a small amount of leavened dough had been left over , instead of throwing it away , they added some lard , some sugar (ingredients of which their pantries were never short )and glass of white “San Nicola “wine , produced by themselves and jealously guarded in the cool cellars of the convent . Having carefully rolled out the dough, they cut out large disks “pettole”about the size of a regular Neapolitan pizza In the centre of one disk they laid a few spoonfuls of “bianco mangiare “
(a kind of cream , white in colour made of bran-flour , milk and sugar ) , a few pieces of dried fruit (above all pears and apricots produced in abundance in their luxuriant orchards and desiccated with loving care during the hot summer on the brightly sunlit terraces of the convent ) , a few fragments of toasted hazelnuts (these too a produce of the convent’s hazel grove ) and as delicious finishing touch , one or two wild black cherries in syrup 8 in the preparation of which they were unsurpassed masters )
On top they placed the other “pettola”and then moulded the dough so as to give it the characteristic shape of a shell or monk’s hood .
Finally , with the baker’s shovel generally used for their bread , they slipped their creation into the still hot oven.
What a great surprise , when , some time later , they took the pastry out of the oven and found that it gave off the sweetest of smells which immediately enveloped the whole convent . With great curiosity they hastened to taste it and having verified that is was unbelievably delicious , they celebrated the event with great glee in the yards of the cloister , amazed that their intuition had produced such great fruits :but of course it never crossed their minds that they had actually worked a “ confectionery miracle “ destined to last in time and become famous .
The initiative met with great success and the fame of the novel pastry soon reached every corner of the region . The Mother Superior of the convent at this point had a brilliant idea . She decided that the convent at this point had a brilliant idea . She decided that the “sfogliatella “ would be distributed free of charge , to all the inhabitants of the city through the “Ruota lignea “(the wooden revolving door of convents ) on a special day , very dear to the hearts of the nuns , the day of the festivities held in honour of their protector St. Rosa of Lima which falls in August .
And it was the intention of reviving and relaunching this historical- cultural event that prompted the town Administration of Conca dei Marini to establish an annual “Festival of the Santarosa “to be held in August , a festival which soon gained world renown.