Are you thinking of visiting Liguria?
This region is one of the most beautiful in Italy since it manages to combine several landscapes in the same territory: you have at your disposal the sea, mountains, parks, cities of remarkable artistic-cultural charm as well as small villages that are considered true pearls set on the Ligurian Riviera, all inexorably accompanied by a food and wine tour that could make your taste buds explode and leave you wanting to return as soon as possible.
In this article, however, I would like to focus on a quaint village capable of releasing so much charm and attraction despite its smallness: I am talking about Camogli, a small pearl on the Ligurian Riviera just a few kilometers from Genoa.
What are the 6 things to visit in Camogli?
Let’s examine them together!
Is Camogli worth visiting?
Camogli is a small pearl set in the Paradise Gulf, exactly 28 km from the capital, Genoa, and 15 km from Portofino, another picturesque location to which I will return later.
Some brief historical background: the tradition that permeates Camogli is purely seafaring and thousands of years old.
Its origins go back as far as the year 1000; later, citizens defined as Camoglians specialized in the art of fishing until they became shipowners in the 17th century, complete with fleets of sailing ships to serve them.
From these seafaring traditions comes the appellation of the city of a thousand white sailing ships.
The name of the town probably derives from the Etruscan deity Camulio, God of war, but it may also be traceable to a popular expression, namely “Cà a muggi,” literally “houses in piles,” because of the particular arrangement of the residential area.
Instead, a more romantic legend has it that Camogli was derived from “House of the Wives“; fishermen’s wives would sadly watch their husbands sail away to sea, and when they returned, the latter could watch their wives from the window (the houses in Camogli are all colored differently, and it is therefore easy to recognize them from afar).
Throughout your stay here you will feel the village’s connection to the sea, which is present at every stop you make.
Certainly, the proximity of Genoa has a great influence on Camogli, both in terms of folklore and traditions, including culinary ones, as well as in terms of the atmosphere one breathes, in addition to the unmistakable smell of the sea that the coastline gives off in the city and among the colorful houses that overlook it.
In addition, given its highly strategic location, Camogli is a perfect junction point for setting off on multiple excursions into as many landscapes or for a romantic weekend characterized by candlelight dinners possible in the many small restaurants and clubs along the waterfront.
Now, however, map in hand, I would like to try to metaphorically catapult you into a specially created itinerary for visiting Camogli in one day, leaving nothing out and trying to pop in all the attractions that are also present in the surrounding area.
What to see in Camogli in one day? The complete itinerary
1) Camogli Marina
We start our journey from the marina.
An absolute gem of the village, Camogli’s harbor opens beyond the Basilica and is home to several fishing boats and boats that transport hundreds of visitors daily to the other towns in the Gulf.
I recommend that you walk until you reach the lighthouse, from which you can get a glimpse of Camogli, admire the view and breathe in the taste of the sea in your lungs.
2) Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta
The first stop is the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, by far one of the key symbols of the entire village.
What is distinctive about this basilica?
It directly faces the sea rising on the so-called Isola, a promontory that in ancient times housed the original nerve center of Camogli and broke away from the mainland to form a kind of huge rock in its own right.
The Basilica, built in the 12th century, has had to undergo multiple renovations necessitated by various events that have occurred but which have not altered its outward beauty, the result of the perfect combination of a well-kept neoclassical facade with the black and white cobblestone lane that opens in front of it.
One of the artistic works in its interior is the vault frescoed by Barabino and Semino, amidst marble and gilded stucco that give the interior structure a remarkable charm.
What are the other works in the Basilica? Well, I’ll let you find out!
3) Dragon Castle
Located exactly behind the Basilica, thus always positioned on this huge rock and consequently overlooking the sea and the small port of Camogli, this castle is typically medieval, belonging to the subspecies of fortresses built around the 12th century, real weapons of defense against the ruthless raids of Saracen pirates from the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Like the Basilica, the Dragon Castle, or Dragonara, has also been the victim of numerous renovations over the years and, unfortunately, it was not until the 1500s that it lost its responsibility to protect the city and was turned into a prison.
Returning more or less to the present day, in the 1970s it housed the Tyrrhenian Aquarium, which lost ground and was permanently closed in favor of the much more famous Genoa Aquarium that continues to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
The Castle, however, is now a civic-cultural center used for exhibitions or events, especially during the summer season.
I recommend you climb the steps and go around the castle until you get to a small terrace overlooking the sea. From here you can admire Camogli from above.
4) Camogli historic center
The typical Ligurian style is not lacking in this hamlet: in fact, it is most evident from the way the houses are attached, given the central space that the mountain behind Camogli offers.
The color palette that invests the facades of the houses is increasingly colorful, even as the height forms a mini skyline that draws the Camogli coastline and characterizes it in a typical way.
The Garibaldi promenade bisects the historic center, along which the presence of stores, restaurants, and bars with outdoor dining or lunch options and with views of the beach create life in the entire village, especially when the sun goes down.
5) The giant frying pan of Camogli
At Largo Luigi Simonetti, at the end of Camogli’s promenade (at the opposite end of the marina), you can admire a giant frying pan, one of the first maxi pots used for the Fish Festival.
The Sagra originated in 1952, when, on the occasion of the feast of St. Fortunato, a group of fishermen from the town of Camogli decided to offer free fresh fried fish to all tourists and locals.
Brick kitchens were built on the square that year, and throughout the day, frying continued in 6 small pans.
The event was a great success, and the following year, a local fisherman nicknamed “O Napoli” decided to have the first frying pan in history built.
This frying pan, which weighed 11 quintals, had a diameter of 4 meters and a handle of 6, was a great success as it was shown on TV in the year 1955. It was capable of frying more than 30,000 fish dishes, using 3 tons of fresh fish and 3,000 liters of oil.
Since then, it became the symbol of the Camogli Fish Festival, which takes place every second Sunday in May and attracts visitors from all over Europe.
6) Maritime Museum Camogli
The excellence of Camogli, the museum named after Ferrari, its founder, gives off all the maritime history of the Ligurian village since it preserves in it model ships, paintings, nautical instruments, or objects owned by the famous Giuseppe Garibaldi linked for years to the merchant navy.
The tour does not end there, however: there are other locations worth a visit not far from the village.
Let’s find out together what there is to see around Camogli.
Now let’s find out together which are the most enchanting locations located near Camogli.
The first three are within easy walking distance (Recco, Punta Chiappa, and San Fruttuoso) while Portofino can be reached by car or public transportation.
A first stop coming out of Camogli is Punta Chiappa, one of the most beautiful sea points in the whole of Liguria, beauty given by the absolute cleanliness of the deep blue water due to the exclusively rocky shorelines.
This point can be reached from Camogli either by boat from its small harbor or on foot (yes, you got it right) from the center of Camogli, which is connected to Punta Chiappa by a beautiful path laced with olive trees and holm oaks amidst wonderful views overlooking the sea.
A second stop is San Fruttuoso, with its Benedictine abbey located in a unique spot because it is nestled in the woods of the promontory.
I highly recommend the Camogli San Fruttuoso section on foot, because the paths that wind between the two localities are enchanting which, however, need the most extraordinary attention given their instability but are worth a visit eeee the enchanting views that this route offers.
Alternatively, you can go to San Fruttuoso by boat, which will take about 30 minutes to transport you to your destination.
But, once you arrive, what to see in San Fruttuoso Camogli?
You should know that Sanfruttuoso is not only famous for its Benedictine monastery from the year 1000.
In San Fruttuoso Bay there is also the Christ of the Abyss, located at a depth of 15 meters, but the clarity of the water may allow you to catch a glimpse of it even from the surface.
To leave out the Portofino Regional Natural Park would be a resounding crime, as it accounts for more than half of the beauty of the area.
Eighty kilometers of trails run the length and breadth of it with as many sea views and striking vistas among the pines, holm oaks, and olive trees that accompany it all.
Another place to visit is Recco, home of the famous focaccia: what are the points of interest within it?
A visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Suffrage is a must: the town’s cathedral is built in the Baroque style and has a single nave, which distinguishes it from the usual interior structure of cathedrals.
It dates back to the 17th century and is dedicated to the patron saint of the city of Recco.
Other places, this time of purely culinary interest, are the focaccia that makes available to you the best cheese-filled flatbreads typical of the area, absolutely not to be missed.
If you’re in Recco in the summer, you should know that the town is home to numerous bathing establishments, bathhouses, lidos, and beaches equipped with amenities and services, as well as seafront restaurants that can provide you with an experience entirely in keeping with your expectations.
In case you are among the fans of trekking but also simply of long walks, I recommend walking the Recco Camogli road.
The distance from Recco Camogli is 1.4km, the promenade connecting the two villages is convenient and, overlooking the sea, can give you breathtaking panoramic views.
Another prestigious location to include in your Liguria exploration itinerary is Portofino.
What are the main attractions?
First of all, the historic center perfectly preserves the style of a typical Roman colony accompanied by numerous ancient artifacts. The colorful houses by the sea are once again a typical touch of the Ligurian coast and one that is not lacking here.
The small square overlooked by stores, restaurants, and bars is worth a visit since it is a symbol of Portofino, set, among other things, in famous films including The Wolf of Wall Street with guest star Leonardo DiCaprio.
The many churches that adorn the center, such as the Church of San Martino, San Giorno, and the Oratory of Santa Maria Assunta are cultural points to include in the itinerary, as is the Brown Castle, whose interior rooms and panoramic terrace I suggest you visit from which to enjoy the entire Portofino with 360° views.
To close this visit and remain on the theme of breathtaking landscapes to enjoy from above, I recommend Monte di Portofino, the highest peak of the entire promontory, which, at 600 meters, dominates the coast and offers sheer views of the sea that will leave you speechless.
If you want to learn more, read my post on what to see in Portofino in one day.
It takes about one day to visit Camogli. If you want to walk around Camogli without delving into the different places of interest, about 3 hours may be enough.
Having clarified the itinerary, the question may arise: how do I get to Camogli?
If you are driving, I recommend the A12 with an exit at Recco and then follow the signs to Camogli.
If you are by train, I recommend getting off directly at Camogli station instead.
While if you are in Genoa or nearby you could simply take the boat that leaves Porto Antico or Rapallo.
Parking in Camogli: where to park in Camogli?
Another burning issue is the search for parking in Camogli, which is not easy in this area: in fact, the few parking spaces available are metered and with rather exorbitant rates.
In the city center, for a fee, there are these two parking lots:
- Cuneo Street;
- Matteotti Square.
Free parking lots, on the other hand, are located in:
- Matteotti Square (only some places with white stripes);
- San Rocco Street.
In contrast, between Recco and Camogli, in the square in front of the Gulliver supermarket (Via Ruffini 25), there is a large paid parking lot with a free shuttle bus service to the city center.
Where to eat: best restaurants in Camogli
Small restaurants are the specialty of this Ligurian village: they are mainly located on the waterfront or along the road that runs alongside the small harbor.
One of the most popular restaurants is the “Da Paolo” restaurant, located on the marina; alternatively, the “Porto Prego” restaurant is on the small square that also stands on the harbor.
Both solutions will be able to guarantee you typical dishes as well as fresh seafood dishes to taste and enjoy overlooking the sea.
If you want a romantic restaurant to celebrate a special occasion, I recommend Thousand and One Nights, just a few minutes drive from the center of town on the Camogli Route.
If, on the other hand, you are also content with just an aperitif, one suggestion is the Muagetti in San Rocco di Camogli.
Don’t leave if you don’t taste the typical Ligurian focaccia consumable in the various focaccia the historic center or on the beach.
What to do in Camogli in winter or on a rainy day?
As mentioned, there are many indoor activities: I recommend a visit to the Basilica, and the Maritime Museum, and I would add the Shrine of Our Lord of the Grove, a point of interest that is sometimes overlooked but worth a visit, especially inside.
In addition, Camogli’s marina and old town are full of places to have aperitifs and in the meantime shelter yourself from the rain, hoping the sun will come back soon.
Are you planning to spend more than one night in Camogli and wondering where to sleep?
Camogli is a small village where you can find comfortable hotels and charming bed and breakfasts.
I leave below a map with the best accommodations in Camogli.
Click on “search” to find out more.
What to do in Camogli Italy in one day: conclusions
Here we come to the end of this travel guide on what to visit in Camogli if you only have one day to spare.
We found out together what to see, where to eat, where to sleep, and what is the best time of year to go to the town of Camogli.
If you plan to visit the village and need more info, leave a comment below or read my guide on what to visit in and around Chiavari.