Updated: Sep 18, 2020
The past few months made us appreciate even more the small things that lay around us, they made us love our country and all its incredible treasures. This weekend in Liguria felt like an amazing discovery!
After a first day all about adventure with the walk from Rapallo to Portofino and the kayak experience in Paraggy Bay, our second day exploring the Gulf of Tigullio was dedicated to history and relax. Discover here the itinerary of Day 1 Rapallo - Santa Margherita Ligure - Portofino
Our 2-day itinerary exploring this little treasure in the region of Liguria, in the North of Italy:
Santa Margherita Ligure
San Fruttuoso Bay
Let's continue our trip with the visit of new villages and a special boat tour!
Boat trip to San Fruttuoso Abbey
After a few troubles trying to close our tent (so easy to open but...), with the help of our 'tent neighbours', we left the Camping Miraflores for another day full of activities! This is the true camping spirit, and I love it!
Head to Camogli for a quick breakfast at Jack's Bar that offers both traditional and American breakfasts. For the Covid-19 situation, the enchanting beach of San Fruttuoso has a limited number of visitors: 100 par day. It is necessary to collect special passes from the office of the Proloco Camogli (Via XX Settembre, 33, 16032 Camogli) very early in the morning. Otherwise, it is possible to reach the beach and wait for spaces to be available once people decide to leave. This Mediterranean gem is only reachable by boat or by walk through a special pathway immersed in nature that passes through Punta Chiappa. Boat tickets are available on the Camogli pier (Via Piero Schiaffino, 14/5, 16032 Camogli, Golfo Paradiso) to reach Punta Chiappa, San Fruttuoso and Recco.
Once on the boat, we had a wonderful view on the small pier of the village, surrounded by colourful houses decorated with the fascinating trompe-l'oeuil technique. We felt like we were in a fairy tale, these tiny villages overlooking the seaside are one of the most characteristics aspect of the Gulf of Tigullio!
In about 20 minutes, we arrived at San Fruttuoso beach and, being on the boat gave us the possibility of admiring this unique pearl within a certain distance. The incredibly blue water welcomed us together with the view of the ancient Abbey of San Fruttuoso which is located in this small bay beneath a steep wooded hill. We booked our ticket (15euro) through Musement the day before, in order to be able to enter the abbey dedicated to Saint Fructuosus, a bishop of Tarraco (now known as Tarragona) who was martyred because of a Roman emperor. Only in the VIII century, the relics of Fructuosus were moved by Greek monks to this abbey and his ashes are still kept in this piece of paradise.
The abbey was founded by the Order of Saint Benedict around the X-XI century. It contains the tombs of members of the noble Doria family from Genoa dating from 1275 to 1305. It is impossible not to notice the watchtower above the abbey called Torre Doria which was erected in 1562 by the family of Andrea Doria with the aim defending the abbey from Barbary pirates.
In 1915, a terrible flood damaged the building that was only completely restored in 2017. Since 1983, the Abbey of San Fruttuoso is part of the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI), an organisation that protects historical heritages in Italy.
The most incredible part of the visit was the wonderful view from the columned windows on the beach, literally a perfect combination of history and nature, a balance of contrasting colours, of shadows and marine blue.
Little tips: bring solar cream with you and buy your lunch in Camogli, prices on the bay are pretty high.
Strolling in the picturesque Camogli
Time to go back to Camogli after the pleasing afternoon spent on the tiny beach of San Fruttuoso. There are ferries every hour and the roundtrip ticket is around 14euro. Just the time to say goodbye to this incredible spot while the boat left, then we dedicated the rest of the afternoon to the discovery of Camogli. The lively pier around 6pm looked like a portrait: pastel-painted buildings, boats coming back from the day, people chatting loudly during the happy hour, hundreds of cute red hearts hanged on a grid.
We walked until the Dragonara Castle dating from the XV century right on the sea, another symbol of the ancient defence system along the coast to protect it from pirates attacks. This picturesque harbour village has been an important base for shipping for years, also called 'the city of a thousand sailing ships'. Now, Camogli's harbour lost this naval importance and it is rather a pretty fishing town in the Gulf of Tigullio. Another important monument also overlooking the harbour is the Basilica of Santa Maria.
PS: parking in Camogli is quite complicated. We managed to find a garage that made us pay 25 euro for the entire day to keep our car.
The famous cheese focaccia from Recco
Last compulsory stop before going back home was Recco and its famous cheese focaccia. Recco is another fishing village well known for its savoury gastronomy. It is divided by the river Recco and its history during the II World War was characterised by terrible bombings.
For dinner, we ate a delicious mix of fried fishes from Blackwave Fish Market, which is also a school of aquatic activities and sports such as surf, paddle, yoga, kayak and so on (BlackWave). And of course, a piece of the cheese focaccia of Recco from Panificio Pasticceria Tossini that we ate along the beach pathway enjoying the colours of the sunset. The cheese focaccia of Recco has the IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) protection symbol, this means that it can be produced only in certain specific places (Recco, Camogli, Sori and Avegno). The history of the focaccia al formaggio started right in Recco and it was considered an easy to prepare dish, important during the periods of the attacks by Saracen pirates. The inhabitants hided in the mountains and baked the cheese focaccia on a hot rock with very simple ingredients: flour, olive oil and cheese. This simple dish is now a symbol of the region and one of the most savoury typical products in Italy.
Every year, the last Sunday of May, the village organises the cheese focaccia fier to celebrate this local speciality. Free tasting of focaccia al formaggio from local bakeries are given to the visitors. Definitely a date to save on the calendar!
This itinerary is perfect for an Italian weekend, especially during spring and summer!
What a wonderful weekend of discovery, laughs, adventure, relax and emotions. My eyes were full of beauty while driving home, and they still are.
[Many thanks to my special adventure buddies, Mimi and Ge]