a few kilometers down the Ligurian Coast from the bustling
burg of Genoa –and at least a million mental miles away —
is peaceful Camogli, Italy.
Jet-set types like Charles Dickens, Lord Byron and
about in carriages and on boats. Excellent
company for GypsyNesters — even ones arriving via rented FIAT.
is literally married to the sea — her name translates to
house of wives in honor of the brave women waiting
for their sailors to return home.
We were itching to get out on the water but restrained ourselves
cup of Joe. Grabbing a seat at one of the outdoor establishments,
we ordered up due cuppucci and scoped out the surroundings.
Ah, Riviera Ligure, a beautiful spring Mediterranean morning and
the nectar of the coffee bean. We felt like the beautiful people.
up and ready to rock we headed out to the end of the seawall
for an ocean’s eye view of the town and a better look at Castello
Dragone. The castle has been standing guard at the entrance
of the harbor since the early 1200s and looks like it has
another 800 years left in it, easy. Walking the seawall also
gave us a chance to scout out the fleet from a different angle.
The marina at Camogli is filled with small fishing boats, both private
As usual we
didn’t have any plans other than the desire to get out on the
briney deep… next stop, the ticket booth. Not wanting to go
back toward Genoa, we booked passage on the next boat going the
other way. That turned out to be a stroke of incredible luck because
we ended up heading for San Fruttuoso, one of the coolest places
we’ve ever stumbled upon.
the moment we left the harbor it became obvious why locals
call this little corner of the Mediterranean Golfo Paradiso.
With its lush, green haphazard mountains rising right out
of the crystal blue water, paradise might not be a strong enough
word for this clear, blue heaven.
first stop on the ferry was a secluded dock to drop off hikers
heading into Portofino Regional Nature Park. The entire peninsula
that forms this side of the gulf is protected land. The park
safeguards about three thousand
acres of undisturbed wilderness, with neither roads nor vehicles
Around a point and tucked away in a turquoise inlet, hidden
view until we were right up on it, was San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte.
The picturesque little village is dominated by the Benedictine monastery
that gives it its name.
site, chosen by the monks over a thousand years ago for its
seclusion and safety, is only accessible by sea or footpath
over the mountains. Throughout the years an abbey, church,
tower were built and rebuilt on this isolated spot. The octagonal
church tower, Torre Nolare, is famous as an incredibly well preserved
tenth century architecture and one of the oldest standing
structures in Liguria.
|In 1141 the Doria
family bought the entire complex and the Benedictines allowed them
to use the lower level of the cloister as tombs for the next few
centuries. The family is best known for the sixteenth century sea
captain, Andrea Doria, who eventually led the entire navy for Genoa
in conquests throughout the Mediterranean. Centuries later a sinking
ship bearing his name would become even more famous than the Genovese
Ducking under the arches we began to explore. The inside of
holding, why waste any time sitting on a boat that’s
we were NOT lucky enough to catch a glimpse of The Christ
of the Abyss, an eight and half foot bronze sculpture submerged
at the mouth of the little inlet. At over fifty feet deep,
it’s safe to say that SCUBA gear is the best bet for getting
a good look at the Sunken Savior, though it is said when the water
is especially clear it may be viewed from the surface. Dedicated
in 1954, the subaquatic statue protects the safety of divers in
the name of Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian
to ever use SCUBA
back in to Camogli, we noticed a couple of structures along
the shore that we had missed on the way out. A medieval lighthouse
and several World War II era bunkers
dotted the hills overlooking the gulf.
lighthouse dates back to medieval times while the bunkers
were built by Nazi Germany in an effort to protect the entrance
to the Genoa harbor, an important supply port.
Between these fortifications and those at San Fruttuoso we
a day on the water, cares just dissolve
away. No doubt our day was infinitely more serene than those of
the ancient sailors but still, they must have loved the sun, the
salt spray and the rocking of the waves.
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com