What are the origins of the Santa Rosa Sfogliatella

The Amalfi Coast is famous for its immense naturalistic, historical and cultural heritage but also and above all for its delicious desserts. Yes, because its pastry chefs are considered among the best in the world.

Visiting Praiano, Positano, Amalfi or any other location on the Divine Coast without indulging in a sweet indulgence would be a real sacrilege.

Among the countless creations of the Campania and Amalfi confectionery tradition, one of the best known and appreciated is the Santa Rosa Sfogliatella, garnished – compared to the classic Riccia – with soft custard and black cherries. Everyone knows her but few know that she was not born in Naples but on the Amalfi Coast.

Its origins, in fact, date back to the distant 1600s, in the small convent of Santa Rosa perched on a cliff at the entrance to Conca dei Marini. It is said that one day, the nun in charge of the kitchen noticed that she had some semolina cooked in milk left over. Instead of throwing it away, she added dried fruit, sugar and lemon liqueur, thus obtaining a filling. She then prepared two sheets of pasta enriched with lard and white wine and placed this sweet concoction in the middle. After giving the dough the characteristic shape of a monk’s hood, she baked everything.

The goodness of the dessert was such that the Mother Superior decided to sell it to the villagers. To safeguard the rule of seclusion, the delivery took place via the classic wheel that was present in the convents. Every day there was a long queue of people waiting who wanted to taste these small puff pastries, which were given the name of the saint after whom the monastery was named. And on the occasion of his feast, August 30th, they were offered to the inhabitants of the town. Even today in Conca dei Marini a festival dedicated to the Santa Rosa Sfogliatella is held with the distribution of thousands of these sweets produced by local pastry shops.

As time passed, new ingredients were added such as black cherries and custard. The recipe remained secret for many years and only at the beginning of the 1800s did it arrive in Naples thanks to a certain Pasquale Pintauro, owner of a shop in Via Toledo that still exists today, who apparently had a nun aunt. Pintauro, however, modified it, eliminating the custard and the black cherry, and depriving it of that reference to the monk’s hood. Thus the Santa Rosa also spread in the Neapolitan city transformed into what was later called Neapolitan Sfogliatella.