Are you planning to visit the Abbey of San Fruttuoso di Camogli and need information on what to see, how to get there, where to eat and sleep?
If you don’t know me yet, let me introduce myself, I am Andrea Semonella, a DOC Genovese and owner of Genova Turismo, the website where I share news and information about the attractions of my beloved Liguria.
In this post I will tell you about the Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli, a world-renowned historical and cultural monument located in the heart of the Ligurian Riviera.
It is one of the most important sites in the region and a must-see destination for those visiting the area. This beautiful abbey has been standing since the 8th century and is a living testament to Italy’s incredible history and religious heritage.
Today we will explore the Abbey of San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte, including what to see, how to get there, and what events will take place in 2023.
I’ll also give you some tips for visiting the Abbey and find out what are the best places to stay and eat near the Monastery.
Ready? Let’s dive in together to discover the Benedictine Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli!
Tickets for Abbey of San Fruttuoso
Visiting the Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli
San Fruttuoso Abbey is located in the picturesque coastal town of Camogli, just a few kilometers from the famous resort of Portofino.
It is a popular tourist destination, accessible from the nearby towns of Genoa and Santa Margherita Ligure.
San Fruttuoso Abbey is open to the public, and visitors can explore the grounds, admire the beautiful sea views, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. The Benedictine Abbey offers guided tours and special events held throughout the year.
A ticket must be purchased to visit the Abbey. Tickets can be purchased in advance online or at the entrance. To avoid the long lines that can form at the entrance to the attraction (especially in high season), I always recommend buying tickets online.
The price is the same, but it will save you a lot of time.
Tickets for Abbey of San Fruttuoso
What to see in San Fruttuoso di Camogli
San Fruttuoso di Camogli is neither a port nor a tourist resort. It is simply a natural inlet along a mountainous coast, accessible only on foot or by ferry.
However, it has two strong attractions: an ancient Benedictine monastery and the Christ of the Abyss.
Benedictine Monastery of San Fruttuoso di Camogli
The Abbey of San Fruttuoso is a unique and beautiful site: a splendid stone building with a small dome, located right next to the small beach of sand and white pebbles.
Some parts of the building are medieval, others Romanesque, and inside are the tombs of the aristocratic Doria family of Genoa.
When nature had not yet created the beach in front of it, boats moored directly under the monastery’s supporting arches, and sailors could readily disembark in the cellars.
Even today, if you decide to visit San Fruttuoso, you can walk under these arches and admire a few boats resting on the stones sheltered from the weather.
In San Fruttuoso, the abbey is in fact the main attraction. With a rather inexpensive ticket (available here) you can visit the interior of the monastery and the 16th-century watchtower located a few steps from the main structure.
In addition to the abbey, however, the resort of San Fruttuoso also features the Christ of the Abyss, a monument of poignant significance located off the beach.
Christ of the Abyss
The Christ of the Abyss is a life-size bronze statue located off the coast of San Fruttuoso, about 15 meters deep.
If you are not an avid scuba diver and do not wish to descend into the abysses of the Ligurian Sea, by purchasing the entrance ticket to the Abbey, you can admire a replica of the statue right inside the church.
Or, during the spring and summer season, when the Mediterranean waters are calm, you are allowed to admire the statue aboard a boat with a transparent bottom.
The statue was commissioned by legendary Italian diver Duilio Mercante (in memory of his friend Dario Gonzatti, who died on that very spot during a dive), created by artist Guido Galletti and lowered into the Mediterranean Sea on August 22, 1954.
Although it is quite recent, both the idea and the sculpture itself are deeply moving: in fact, it symbolizes a true memorial for all those who have lost their lives at sea and for those who continue to dive to explore its depths, thus representing a place of pilgrimage and a kind of sanctuary for divers from all over the world.
The statue was reproduced and lowered off the coast of St.George, Grenada (southeast of the Caribbean Sea) in 1961, and then again in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo (Florida) in 1965.
Thus there are two reproductions of the Christ of the Deep, but the original one still rests in the Ligurian Sea, off the beautiful San Fruttuoso di Camogli.
The interior of the Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli
In this short paragraph I will tell you how the visit to the Abbey unfolds.
After passing the stone arches at the entrance (which in ancient times represented a shelter for fishermen and their boats) you will go directly up to the second floor, admire the Upper Cloister and the Rectory.
You will then go down to the second floor, where you will admire the Lower Cloister, the Tombs of the Dorias and the Medieval Church.
After that, you will return to the second floor, where you will discover the Private Church and the reproduction of the Christ of the Abyss, and then conclude your visit by returning to the ticket office.
Ready? Let’s set off to discover the Abbey.
From the ticket office, you can directly access the Upper Cloister, built in the 12th century, which was originally facing the sea and is one of the oldest points of the entire Benedictine complex.
The second floor of the Abbey was built in the 13th century with funds donated by the Doria family: inside you can admire the double rows of Gothic three-mullioned windows that perfectly frame the beauty of the sea view. The space is entirely occupied by an exhibition of artifacts brought to light during the 1983 restoration by FAI.
The opening located at the end of the hall leads into the garden of the present rectory. In the past this represented the entrance to an original building dating back to the 10th century, and today completely disappeared. This building is believed to have been used as a dormitory for the monks and demolished during the renovation of the Cloister, which took place in the 16th at the behest of Admiral Andrea Doria.
Going down to the second floor, you will find yourself in a large space where you can admire marble objects: among them, the head of Emperor Hadrian (2nd century AD) probably purchased by the Doria family stands out.
The Lower Cloister is part of the oldest area of the monastery (dating back to the 10th century). The corner stuccoes are made from stone quarried from Mount Portofino, while the small green and white marble columns are surmounted by capitals depicting animals and plants. In contrast, the area located east of the cloister was part of the original monastery and was initially used as a place of prayer. During the 13th century, the room was used as the monks’ cemetery, while in the 14th and 15th centuries it was also used as a burial place for lay personalities.
The room opens onto the Medieval Church (also known as the “monastic” church), consisting of a room with an apse used as a chapel; in the background, a crypt dating back to the 13th century, built to house the remains of an Abbot of the Doria family, can be glimpsed.
Hall of the Tombs of the Dorias
Continuing westward from the Lower Cloister, we reach the room that housed the tombs of the famous House of Doria since the 13th century. The tombs, arranged in rows on the three walls of the room, are made of white marble and gray stone, alternating in typical Ligurian style.
Returning to the second floor, you will encounter the Public Church, built by raising the original roof of the Medieval Church after the monks left and the Abbey passed into the hands of the Doria family. The high altar contains the silver reliquary that protects the remains of the martyrs Fruttuoso, Augurio and Eulogio.
Replica of the Christ of the Abyss
Within this area, you can admire the faithful replica of the Christ of the Abyss, the marble statue submerged about 15 meters deep off the shore of San Fruttuoso.
Finally, as you leave the Public Church, you will return to the courtyard in front of the Abbey ticket office, where you began your visit.
History of the Benedictine Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli
The Abbey of San Fruttuoso has a long and fascinating history: initially built as a monastery, then becoming a pirates’ den, a humble fishermen’s shelter, and finally used as the residence of the princess of the Doria family.
Year 711: The construction of the Abbey
According to legend, in the year 711 a bishop of Terragona named Prospero, in order to flee the Arab invasion from the Iberian Peninsula, took refuge in this small cove.
Here he decided to establish a small abbey to protect the sacred remains of the Christian martyr St. Fruttuoso and his deacons, Augurius and Eulogius, whom Prospero had saved from the fury of the Saracens in Spain.
Year 984: The construction of the church
In the late 900s, after being damaged by Saracen pirates, the abbey was restored by Bishop John II, who decided to have a church built with a large octagonal bell tower.
Year 1275: The passage into the hands of the Dorias
In 1275 the complex passed into the hands of the Dorias, a noble family from Liguria.
The Dorias financed the expansion of the structure, in which a new two-story building with three-mullioned windows facing the sea was built.
In exchange for this work, the family was granted the possibility of burying their dead within the complex. Between the late 1200s and early 1300s the Doria family buried seven members, whose remains still rest inside the crypt next to the Lower Cloister.
The Doria tombs are recognizable by alternating strips of white Carrara marble and black slate from Lavagna, a design combination reserved for the Church and high-ranking Ligurians.
Year 1562: Construction of the tower
During the 1500s the Genoese were very active in navigation and trade.
This meant that the Ligurian Sea was often populated with sailing ships filled with precious spices and other high-value goods.
For the Barbary pirates who traveled the Mediterranean in search of ships to attack, these types of vessels were like honey to bees.
But the one commodity those ships did not contain (but of intrinsic importance to the pirates) was fresh water, and the easiest supply they could get to was right at San Fruttuoso.
To protect the bay from possible pirate assaults, the family had a quadrangular watchtower built, which they later decorated with the seal of the House of Doria, the imperial eagle.
The tower was equipped with heavy and light artillery (three bronze cannons, a bomber, 33 muskets and arquebuses) and manned by some boys from the Dorias’ private army.
Year 1938: the reconstruction
During a tragic storm in 1912, the façade and bell tower of the church were almost completely destroyed, only to be restored about 30 years later, in 1938, when the Doria-Panphili family decided to donate the complex to FAI (the Fund for the Italian Environment), which took charge of the restoration of the entire building.
During the restoration, historical artifacts were found that trace the history of the Benedictine monks and the entire Abbey. Today part of these artifacts can be visited within the San Fruttuoso museum display.
How to get to San Fruttuoso Camogli
San Fruttuoso Bay: Half-Day Hiking Tour
San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte Abbey is located in San Fruttuoso di Camogli, in the province of Genoa, municipality of Camogli.
It can be reached from the nearby towns of Camogli and Santa Margherita. The nearest airport is Cristoforo Colombo Airport in Genoa, which is about an hour from the Abbey.
The Abbey can be reached on foot or by boat from the nearby towns of Recco, Camogli, or Punta Chiappa. There are several companies that offer boat tours to the Abbey and they are a pleasant way to explore the area.
Read on to find out how to get to the Abbey of San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte by foot, car, train, or boat.
Getting to San Fruttuoso on foot
If you plan to walk to San Fruttuoso di Camogli, you can leave your car in the large parking lot on Via S. Rocco, located before the pedestrian area leading to the church of San Rocco.
Once you have parked your car, you can proceed on foot to the church of San Rocco.
Now that you have arrived, to get to San Fruttuoso on foot you will have to choose between two really picturesque paths:
- Battery Trail (Sentiero delle Batterie);
- Trail of the Narrow Stones (Sentiero delle Pietre Strette).
Route 1: Sentiero delle Batterie (Battery Trail)
- Duration: 3 hours
- Difficulty: medium/high
- Departure: Church of San Rocco
- Arrival: San Fruttuoso di Camogli
- Notes: not recommended for children and people who suffer from vertigo, it is advisable to bring at least one bottle of water per person (there are no refreshment points along the way) and to wear comfortable clothing, a hat and hiking shoes. The trail is exposed to the sun most of the way.
That of “the Batterie” is a trail that starts in Camogli, goes through Portofino Park and reaches San Fruttuoso. It takes this name from the bunkers built during World War II that you will encounter along the way.
It is a rather challenging trail, with more than half of it exposed to the sun and some points overhanging the sea where, in order to advance, you will have to help yourself with chains anchored to the rock. For this reason it is not recommended for children, disabled people or people suffering from vertigo.
To leave, set “Church of San Rocco” on your navigator and leave your car at the paid parking lot located on Via S. Rocco, before the access allowed only to residents, a few hundred meters from the church.
Once you walk to the Church of San Rocco, you can follow the signs to “Trail of the Batterie”.
The first part of the trail is rather easy but incredibly scenic: there are incredible views of the Camogli coastline and enchanting landscapes of the Levante Riviera.
The second half, on the other hand, is more challenging, and once you get to the point “Le Batterie” there are some sheer points overhanging the sea where there is no protection and you will have to hold on to chains anchored to the rock in order to advance.
If you are a traveler who likes adventure, the Batteries Trail will truly leave you speechless, and once you arrive at your destination, you will enjoy sensational views of San Fruttuoso Bay.
The arrival is the reward for all the effort made along the way.
How to turn back once you reach your destination? Once you reach San Fruttuoso di Camogli, if you no longer have the strength to retrace the path backwards, I recommend taking a boat. The ticket for the boat is 9€ and in about 30 minutes it will take you back to the small port of Camogli.
From the center of Camogli, you can reach the Church of San Rocco (where you had left your car) in about 20 minutes on foot.
If you prefer a less strenuous path, however, you can opt for the Pietre Strette path.
Route 2: Sentiero delle Pietre Strette (Narrow Stones Trail)
- Duration: 2.30 hours
- Difficulty: easy/medium
- Departure: Church of San Rocco
- Arrival: San Fruttuoso di Camogli
- Notes: comfortable clothing and hiking shoes recommended
The Pietre Strette path is a trail that starts from the village of San Rocco di Camogli, crosses part of Portofino Park and then descends to San Fruttuoso of Camogli.
Unlike the Batterie Trail, the Pietre Strette Strette Trail is much easier, less scenic, and suitable for everyone, adults and children.
To take the right path, you have to follow the signs for “Portofino Vetta” (the signs are very clear, so you really can’t go wrong) and take what used to be a Via Crucis path, as you can see from the many paintings you will encounter along the mule track.
After half an hour of walking uphill, you will come to a junction (this area is easily recognized by the presence of some RAI antennas and repeaters) where you should follow the signs for Pietre Strette.
Once you reach the summit, you can follow the signs for San Fruttuoso and begin the descent between steep switchbacks and an all-sloping cobblestone path.
After an hour of downhill walking, you will have arrived at San Fruttuoso, can admire the majestic Abbey and relax on the small white sand and pebble beach.
If you are a lover of hiking, you will surely enjoy this itinerary to the fullest, but if you are not a lover of walking, then you could opt for the next solution, which is to reach San Fruttuoso by boat.
San Fruttuoso Bay: Half-Day Hiking Tour
The easiest and fastest way to reach San Fruttuoso di Camogli is definitely by sea, via ferry that leave from Punta Chiappa, Recco, Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure, or Portofino.
The Camogli ferry to San Fruttuoso is the most popular, whose trip takes about 30 minutes.
During your sail, you can admire Portofino Mountain, the Hermit’s Cave, Cala dell’Oro, and the rock of Punta Chiappa.
For more information, or to purchase ferry tickets, go to the official Golfo Paradiso website.
San Fruttuoso di Camogli cannot be reached by car.
If you would like to reach the Abbey on foot, I recommend that you leave your car in the paid parking area on Via S. Rocco, located before the area reserved for residents that leads to the church of San Rocco di Camogli, and proceed by walking.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to reach San Fruttuoso by sea, I recommend that you leave your car in Camogli at the large parking area in Piazza Matteotti and board the ferry that leaves right from the small port.
The nearest train station is in Camogli. From here, you can decide to get to San Fruttuoso on foot or by ferry.
In the former case, you should follow the Pietre Strette or the Batterie route (which I mentioned earlier); in the latter, you can take the boat directly from the small port of Camogli.
Tickets for Abbey of San Fruttuoso
Where to sleep at the Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli
If you plan to stay in the area, there are a few great places to stay overnight near the Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli. Given the location is not easily accessible, there are very few hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area. Let’s find out about them together.
Da Giovanni is one of the few accommodations located in the heart of San Fruttuoso, offering board and lodging in a truly unique location. The rooms are very clean and equipped, there is a panoramic terrace where you can dine or have lunch (together with the managers of the facility) overlooking the beautiful bay. If you decide to stay at Da Giovanni, you should know that the real magic begins when the last ferry leaves from San Fruttuoso, the moment when the beach empties and you find yourself immersed, alone, in this breathtaking view.
Alloggio a S.Fruttuoso di Camogli (Airbnb)
Airbnb with a lovely view of the bay of San Fruttuoso. The décor is meticulous in every detail, as is the cleanliness and kindness of Anna, the owner of the facility. Here you can dine on your own or go to the restaurant located immediately below the apartment and eat in the small tables outside. A magical place.
San Fruttuoso amazing cottage (Airbnb)
A newly renovated accommodation with great taste in details. It is equipped with everything you need, maximum cleanliness and a sensational sea view. In front of the entrance to the apartment you can have lunch or dinner on a small terrace surrounded by a small garden of tomatoes and zucchini. A romantic option for couples or families.
About 20 minutes from the bay, in the middle of the path leading from Camogli to San Fruttuoso, you find an agrifugio run by extraordinary people. The place is magical, and the view of the cove is truly breathtaking. This facility also offers lunch and dinner service with truly amazing home cooking (trust me, I say this as a Genovese!). At night, surrounded by nature, you really enjoy the silence and fresh air of the Tigullio. Ideal for single people as well as couples or families.
This is a 4-bed apartment managed by FAI (the Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano) itself; a real fisherman’s cottage located in the extraordinary setting of a medieval abbey. Given the high demand (especially in high season) it should be booked for a minimum of 2 nights and well in advance.
Restaurants in San Fruttuoso di Camogli
Although San Fruttuoso di Camogli is a popular tourist destination, there are not many restaurants in the area.
There are basically four restaurants in the bay: La Cantina, Da Giovanni, Da Laura, and La Marina. Of the four, I recommend the first two (La Cantina and Da Giovanni), while Da Laura and La Marina do not have a very good reputation online.
You can read all the tourist reviews on the Google profile.
Not far away, you will instead find Da Spadin or Pescaturismo Ittiturismo Castel Dragone, two really superb restaurants where you can taste excellent fresh fish just caught by local seafarers.
Events at the Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli
The Abbey of San Fruttuoso of Camogli hosts several events throughout the year organized by FAI.
There is currently only one event available, called “Ti racconto l’Abbazia“, in which you are allowed to learn about the history of the monastery in a guided tour lasting about 1 hour.
It is scheduled on the following dates:
- JANUARY 21-22-28-29, 2023
- FEBRUARY 4-5-11-12-18-19-25-26, 2023
- MARCH 4-5-11-12-18-19, 2023
To make reservations, click here.
Tips for visiting S. Fruttuoso Camogli Abbey
Visiting the Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli is a unique and unforgettable experience, and there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your visit.
First, be sure to purchase your ticket in advance, as seats can sell out quickly.
Second, if you decide to walk to the Abbey, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing, as exploring Portofino Park can be quite a workout.
Third, bring along a camera and a hat, because there are breathtaking views from the terrace of the Abbey.
Finally, be sure to plan your visit in advance, because the Abbey, especially in the high season, can be really busy.
- Winter (January, February-November, December): daily except Mondays, 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
- Spring and fall (March and October, April, May and September): daily, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
- Summer (June, July, August, first half of September): daily, 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
- Abbazia di San Fruttuoso di Camogli
- Phone: +39 0185 772703
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.fondoambiente.it
Frequently asked questions
The tour of the Abbey takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
On foot, from Camogli via Portofino Park, or by boat from Genoa, Recco, Camogli, or Punta Chiappa. The Abbey cannot be reached by car.
From Genoa, Camogli, Recco or Punta Chiappa.
– Full fare: ONE WAY € 10,00 – ROUND TRIP € 15,00
– Reduced fare: ONE WAY € 7,00 – ROUND TRIP € 10,00
From Punta Chiappa:
– Full fare: ONE WAY € 6,00 – ROUND TRIP € 11,00
– Reduced fare: ONE WAY € 4,00 – ROUND TRIP € 6,00
– Full fare: ONE WAY € 12,00 – ROUND TRIP € 17,00
– Reduced fare: ONE WAY € 8,00 – ROUND TRIP € 12,00
More info on the official website of Golfo Paradiso.
In the small port of Camogli, where the ferry ticket office is located.
Approximately 30 minutes of navigation.
If you decide to go on foot, I recommend leaving your car in the parking lot on Via S. Rocco. If you decide to go by boat, you can leave your car in Camogli (in the large parking lot in Piazza Matteotti) and walk to the marina in about 10 minutes.
According to legend, the Abbey was built in the year 711 by a bishop of Terragona named Prospero, who, in order to flee the Arab invasion from the Iberian Peninsula, took refuge in this small cove. Here he decided to establish a small abbey to protect the sacred remains of the Christian martyr St. Fruttuoso and his deacons, Augurius and Eulogius, whom Prospero had saved from the fury of the Saracens in Spain.
In San Fruttuoso di Camogli you can visit the Abbey, relax on the charming white pebble beach, or, if you are a scuba diving lover, admire the Christ of the Abyss, located about 15 meters deep off San Fruttuoso.
Definitely in low season, that is, between April and May or between September and October. During the high season the tourist flow is very significant and you would risk not enjoying your time in this magical landscape to the fullest. To secure an entrance to the Abbey, I recommend booking tickets online.
You can book tickets online by clicking here.
San Fruttuoso Benedictine Abbey: Conclusions
The Abbey of San Fruttuoso Camogli is an extraordinary and unique destination, and a must-see for anyone visiting the Ligurian Riviera. From its ancient ruins to its richly decorated interiors and stunning views of the Ligurian Sea, San Fruttuoso Abbey is truly a sight to behold.
In this post, we found out together what to visit, what the interior of the Abbey is like and its incredible history; we looked at where to sleep and eat nearby and what are the routes to get there.
In short, I think I really told you everything. If you need more information, please feel free to leave a comment. I always reply to everyone when I can.
If, on the other hand, after seeing San Fruttuoso, you decide to visit the surrounding towns as well, take a look at what to see in Camogli and what to see in Santa Margherita Ligure.
- San Fruttuoso Abbey of Camogli: Photo by Tiqets
- Upper cloister: Wikipedia
- Lower cloister: Irene Grassi via Flickr
- Tombs of the Dorias: Jenny Thorpe via Flickr
- Christ of the Abyss: Davide Clementelli via Flickr
- How to reach San Fruttuoso by sea: Golfo Paradiso