When you enter the port of Camogli by boat, you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere special. The rocks that rise up in front of the castle start telling you stories about ancient lands, early settlements, and the tempestuous waves that shaped them.
This is another world, a place to discover ancient deeds, smells and sounds. On the small jetty, fishermen show off the treasures provided by the sea – simple, fresh and delicious fish – with pride. They haul in their nets majestically, mended and left to dry on the frames next to their boats. The fleet is still very much active.
The castle and the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which overlook the sea, show how the inhabitants of Camogli and the coastline have fought against bitter enemies for centuries: the wind, the stormy seas and Saracen pirates.
There are extremely tall houses and exceptionally narrow alleys. Bright, vivid and pastel colours and real and false windows.
Painted façades that trick the eye, decoration, people, small cats and open blinds, but nothing is fixed; the painting suggests something that isn’t there. There are no lifts, only relentless stairs, but you are repaid with a breathtaking view. Small wicker baskets and hung-out washing fight against the sea breeze.
The old mediaeval village with its caruggio, or narrow alley, the modern promenade and the beach on the Golfo Paradiso are all still intact. Modernity struggles to adapt to this difficult landscape. Everything remains on a human scale, simple, genuine and sincere. Sometimes rough, like the character of its inhabitants, forged in a past marked by hardship.
From the beach you can glimpse the small tuna nets and, above, the Church of San Rocco; from there, on foot, or by sea from Camogli, you can reach Porto Pidocchio and Punta Chiappa. Scattered houses and World War II bunkers offer resting points and exceptional views over the sea.
Behind Punta Chiappa, heading towards the Gulf of Tigullio, you come across San Fruttuoso and its Benedictine abbey. This religious retreat, owned by the Doria family, is an enchanted and solitary place. History and legend come together, and you lose all sense of time. You can never tire of coming here; it provides a true refuge from the noise and excesses of reality. The sea simmers on the rocks, changing from dark blue to light blue, turquoise and green.
Simple places mean simple food: basic ingredients forge authentic cuisine, such as focaccia topped with warm, stringy cheese, fried fish and fresh white wine.