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Sfogliatella Santa Rosa

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Few people know that the Neapolitan sfogliatella, the famous pastry dessert, is nothing else than the evolution of another one, known as ‘Santa Rosa’, born a few dozen kilometers from the ‘City of the Sun’, on the Amalfi Coast. Let’s deepen our knowledge of this delicacy, finding out how it has evolved, delighted by the scent and landscapes of one of the most beautiful places in the world. Enjoy the reading!

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa.

What is Sfogliatella Santa Rosa?

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa is a typical dessert from the Italian region of Campania consisting of crispy puff pastry stuffed with a soft filling made with semolina, ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar and candied fruit. The specialty is enriched with custard and black cherries in syrup. Although this sweet delicacy is the heir to an ancient tradition, most sources consider its birth as the result of the successful experiment of a nun from a cloistered convent on the Amalfi Coast.

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa and the Amalfi Coast.

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa is one of the most typical desserts from the Amalfi Coast. This stretch of the Tyrrhenian coast, located in the Campania Region between the towns of Vietri sul Mare and Positano, is world-famous for the beauty of its landscapes, so much so that it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

The history of Sfogliatella Santa Rosa.

The history of Sfogliatella Santa Rosa.

Bartolomeo Scappi: the cook of the Popes.

The origins of the Santa Rosa Sfogliatella belong to a distant past. Evidence of similar culinary preparations can be found, for example, in a text of great importance for Italian gastronomic culture, namely the ‘Opera di M. Bartolomeo Scappi, cuoco secreto di Papa Pio V’ (‘Work of M. Bartolomeo Scappi, secret chef of Pope Pius V’), dating back to the 16th century. In this book Scappi (*1) mentions, among other things, “sfogliatelle made with butter and egg yolks” and “puffed pastries, filled with white food”: true forerunners of the specialty.

Currently, most sources associate the birth of this delicacy to an episode that has the flavor of legend: the tale is set at an unspecified date in the 1600s and has as its protagonist a cloistered nun from the convent of Santa Rosa, located on the Amalfi Coast, between the small towns of Ravello and Furore. The nun, whose name was perhaps Clotilde, in order not to waste some leftover semolina, would have added to it a little milk, ricotta cheese, dried fruit, sugar and a few drops of liqueur (*2), thus making a filling that was both simple and tasty, more than suitable therefore to be enclosed in a small round-shaped puff pastry (‘like the hat of a priest’, ‘a cappello di prete’). The very first Santa Rosa sfogliatella was born. Once tasted, the dessert was appreciated so much that it was decided to sell it to the locals (*3).


Over time, the specialty became popular outside the Coast and particularly in Naples, where Pasquale Pintauro (*4) made some changes, transforming it into what is now known as the Neapolitan sfogliatella (*5).

In this regard, it should be remembered that, over the years, the Santa Rosa itself had evolved: while retaining a filling very similar to the original, its shape became triangular, being enriched with custard and cherries in syrup.


Nowadays, the cake has become a true ‘classic’: its fame has grown exponentially thanks to the ‘tourist renaissance’ that in recent years characterizes both the city of Naples and the Amalfi Coast area.


*1: Bartolomeo Scappi, having served as cook for Pope Pius IV and Pius V, was nicknamed ‘the cook of the popes’.
*2: It was probably another famous specialty of the Amalfi Coast: the ‘Limoncello’, made using the exquisite local lemons.
*3: In this regard, it should be remembered that the religious of the convents lived not only thanks to donations, but also to the self-production of food, artifacts, etc.
*4: Pasquale Pintauro, having realized the potential of the Santa Rosa, abandoned his old profession of innkeeper and became a pastry chef. At the same time, he transformed his old place into a workshop that is still in business.
*5: The ‘classic’ Neapolitan sfogliatella, derived from the Santa Rosa, is the type known nowadays as ‘riccia’.

WebFoodCulture: the most traditional restaurants.

The most traditional pastry shops.

Here follow a short list of some of the most traditional pastry shops of the Amalfi Coast, thanks to which it’s possible to enjoy the original Santa Rosa sfogliatella.

> Pasticceria Pansa
Addr.: Piazza Duomo, 40 – 84011 Amalfi (SA) – Italy
Tel.: +39 089 871 065


> Pasticceria La Zagara
Addr.: Via dei Mulini, 10 – 84017 Positano (SA) – Italy
Tel.: +39 089 875 964
> Antica Dolceria Savoia
Addr.: Via Matteo Camera, 2 – 84011 Amalfi (SA) – Italy
Tel.: +39 089 871445

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa: ingredients.

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa: ingredients.

The ‘Santa Rosa’ should be considered the mother of the classic Neapolitan sfogliatella, currently known as the ‘riccia’. The two specialties have the same filling, what the Santa Rosa differs in is the use of custard, added with a saccapoche, and a sweet decoration consisting of black cherries in syrup.


  • Flour (preferably manitoba);
  • Lard;
  • Sugar;
  • Salt;


  • Milk;
  • Egg yolks;
  • Sugar;
  • Flour;
  • Butter;
  • Grated lemon peel;


  • Ricotta cheese (made with cow’s milk);
  • Semolina;
  • Egg yolk;
  • Candied fruit;
  • Sugar;
  • Natural flavorings;


  • Amarena cherries in syrup;

The preparation of Santa Rosa on video.

This video shows the preparation of the Neapolitan sfogliatella, also known as ‘riccia’. The Santa Rosa sfogliatella is distinguished solely by the addition (made with a saccapoche) of custard and black cherries in syrup (thanks to the author of the video @italiasquisita )

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa: calories.

Sfogliatella Santa Rosa: calories.

The amount of calories in a Santa Rosa sfogliatella varies according to its weight. One hundred grams contain an average of 350 Kcals.

Santa Rosa Monastery.

The Santa Rosa Monastery.

According to tradition, sfogliatella Santa Rosa was invented in a monastery on the Amalfi Coast from which it took its name. The structure, built in the 17th century, originally was a Dominican convent. Particularly striking is its location, overlooking the splendid sea of the Bay of Conca dei Marini. Currently the building is a luxury hotel (official website).

A 'wheel' for Sfogliatella Santa Rosa.

The ‘wheel’.

Many of the most famous Italian specialties, in particular the sweet ones, have been invented by cloistered nuns. Quite often, through the sale of these delicacies, these religious women could earn the money needed to survive. Not being able to have direct contact with the outside world, they used the ‘wheel’ (‘ruota’): a wooden mechanism that, by turning on itself, made it possible to carry out the transaction without getting in touch with the customers.

It’s important to underline that a very similar device, the ‘wheel of the exposed’ (‘ruota degli esposti’), started to be used since the 13th century to collect anonymously abandoned infants.

Raisin wine for Sfogliatella Santa Rosa.

What to drink?

What to drink with a delicious sfogliatella Santa Rosa? There are several possible choices: one of the best might be a raisin wine characterized by good acidity.

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