San Fruttuoso

The perfect monastery in the perfect place

Some days ago my boyfriend surprised me with a day trip to San Fruttuoso, to me the most impressive monastery emplacement ever.

We went there by boat, on our typical wooden gozzo (traditional fishing boat). Two hours of navigation made special by the view of the coast in between Levanto and Portofino… just another confirmation that Liguria has to be admired from the sea!

Two hours of nice sea breeze, crystal clear water, colorful rocks stained by pines, agaves and some impressive half hidden villas and then tiny fairytale villages perched on the hills and famous touristic destinations such as Sestri Levante, Rapallo, Santa Margherita and Her Highness Portofino, undiscussed queen of this portion of Liguria.

The arrival in San Fruttuoso is emotionally intense and maybe this picture might help you understand what I’m talking about…

Being part of the Area Marina Protetta di Portofino (i.e. Portofino Protected Marine Area), we couldn’t moor directly at the pier, but had to use one of the free buoy in the tiny hidden bay and ask a local boatman a lift and it was actually nice to talk to him for a few minutes and ask about life there during winter time or sea storms… quite a challenge actually!

In San Fruttuoso only live a few families of fishermen earning their lives with tourism in summer and fishing during the rest of the year and whose houses are dominated both by the Abbey dating back to 984 BC and by the Tower Doria.

The legend tells that the emplacement to built the abbey was shown in a dream by the Bishop of San Fruttuoso to 5 faithful monks, who after a long wander along the Ligurian coast found the spot. In 1983, the genovese Doria Pamphily family, who owned the place in the last 7 centuries, gave the entire area to the FAI, the Italian Environmental Fund.

After a delicious, cheap and easy lunch on the beach – right under the abbey arches – based on mussels and fried anchovies, we hiked the few steps that from the sand lead to the abbey and started our visit of this massive and several times enlarged and improved construction. The only thing I can think and write when closing my eyes and picturing it is beautiful… beautiful columns and arcades, beautiful ancient tombs and beautiful view on the bay. Actually, peaceful is another term I can’t help but think about.

San Fruttuoso, The Christ of the Abyss

The Christ of the abyss is under the water just in front of San Fruttuoso

In the abbey we could also admire a copy of the bronze statue of the Christ that was originally placed in the dim waters of the bay in 1954, in memory of those who died at sea and those who have devoted their lives to it. This statue, know as Cristo degli Abissi (i.e. Christ of the Abyss), has become a symbol for all divers and of course a trendy spot for them and every year at the end of August it became ‘leading actor’ of a very suggestive religious-folkloric ceremony to honor those died at sea.

Some useful information:

  • The abbey is open all year long from Tuesday to Sunday and can be visited from 10.00 a.m. to 3.45 p.m., with last admission 45 minutes before closing. During summer it opens also on Mondays.
  • You can easily reach San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte by ferry from the surrounding cities. For further information visit these official websites: Golfo Paradiso and Traghetti Portofino.
  • The paths connecting San Fruttuoso to Camogli, Santa Margherita or Portofino offer the most scenic views and if you like hiking I suggest you do not miss them (average walking time 1h30 – for experienced hikers).
  • We did the trip on our own boat, but you can rent a gozzo in every costal town. Do not hesitate to write a commente here below, if you need help to find a boat rental.