One of the most scenic places in Liguria
San Fruttuoso is a small village situated in the Ligurian Sea, off the coast of Italy. It is a hidden gem located between Portofino and Camogli, and is known for its beautiful Mediterranean setting and idyllic charm. With its crystal clear waters, lush green landscape, and colorful buildings, San Fruttuoso offers visitors a unique experience that can only be found in this truly unique location.
When we first saw San Fruttuoso, we thought that this place couldn’t be real. Seriously, a place like this, almost unknown apart from the local tourists and from a few people coming from Portofino? It’s dripping history, and it has an amazing beach with clear, greenish-blue water. It’s one of the most scenic places in Liguria: San Fruttuoso can be easily compared to Cinque Terre for its absolute uniqueness and beauty.
With the words “San Fruttuoso”, people usually mean the Abbey of San Fruttuoso and the upfront bay. The same name is used also for a neighborhood of Genoa. In this post, we’ll talk about the Catholic abbey, named after St. Fructuosus, a Catalan bishop and saint whose ashes are still preserved there.
So, are you ready to discover what and where is this place? We’re gonna tell you everything you need to know.
Abbey of San Fruttuoso
The Abbey of San Fruttuoso is one of the oldest and most beautiful monasteries in Italy. It is located on the east coast of the Ligurian Sea, in the town of Camogli. It was founded by a Benedictine monk from Milan in 1074 and has been an important part of Italian history ever since.
The abbey holds many historical artifacts, including its iconic bell tower, which overlooks the harbor. As you walk through its ancient stone walls, you can hear monks chanting their prayers and smell incense burning. The intricate frescoes and sculptures that adorn its walls tell stories about life in medieval times while providing visitors with a glimpse into a long-forgotten era. Visitors can explore the ancient monastery or take part in special events such as concerts or religious ceremonies held there throughout the year.
Where is it?
The bay of San Fruttuoso is in Liguria, not far from its biggest city, Genoa. This secluded place is between Camogli and Portofino. This place is the perfect one-day trip from Genoa. Be sure to check out our article about this beautiful city!
What is San Fruttuoso?
It’s a tiny, scenic, romantic bay, where a Benedictine abbey was built in the 10th century. Where in the world you can find an 1100-year-old abbey on the shore of a crystal-clear sea? The building, together with the medieval tower on the top of the nearby hill, was once the property of the Doria family of Genoa. Nowadays, it’s been restored and administrated by FAI (Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano), the Italian version of the National Trust.
A bit of history
Back in the 8th century. In the year 711 Prosper, the bishop of Tarragona, Spain, decided to establish an abbey to protect the ashes of the Christian martyr Saint Fructuosus (San Fruttuoso in Italian). Prosper wanted to save the sacred remains from the fury of the Saracens that were terrifying Spain.
However, we have to wait until 984 to find the first official mention of the abbey. In the meanwhile, Saracen pirates were often assaulting the place, so bishop John II repaired the building and built the near church and its bell tower.
300 years later, the Doria family took over the whole complex. We have to thank them for the Abbey being so beautiful: They funded an expansion of it where a new, two-level building was constructed facing the sea. In exchange for their funds, the family was granted the right to bury their dead in the crypt. From that moment, they buried seven members and their tombs can be seen today.
What to see in San Fruttuoso?
The lovely bay between Camogli and Portofino is surrounded by luxurious vegetation. We said at the beginning that the place is unique: You know why? It’s only reachable by sea or on foot. No roads, no cars, no bikes!
The bay is tiny, yes, but unexpectedly there are many things to see and to do.
The old Abbey
It has a fascinating story of troubled days and damned pirates. Built as a monastery, it soon began a pirate’s hideout. At that time, the shores of Liguria were attacked by Saracen pirates very often. San Fruttuoso Bay looked like the perfect place for them to hide and set a headquarters. Then, with the help of the Doria family, it became the beautiful medieval complex still standing in front of the waves. It’s open to the public.
Crystal clear water
In front of the Abbey, is a small beach. More than half of it is private, which means that you have to pay to stay there, and it offers chairs and sun umbrellas for rent. The other part of the beach is free and you can enjoy your sunbathing without worries. Most probably you’ll find yourself bathing in the clear blue and green waters of the bay. Take with you your snorkeling gear, you’re going to have fun!
Christ of the Abyss dive
If you like diving, this is the place to be. There are no sharks (usually…), and there is no coral reef. So why should you dive in there? Have you ever heard of the worldwide famous Christ of the Abyss? We bet you have. It’s a submerged bronze statue of Jesus Christ, offering a benediction of peace. It’s the protector of the fishermen and it’s really impressive.
Cultural events and shows
In the Abbey, cultural events and shows take place once in a while. Concerts (mostly classical music) are a great way to experience the place: A special ferry operates for these occasions.
San Fruttuoso Beach
San Fruttuoso Beach is an idyllic beach paradise tucked away on the Italian Riviera. This pristine beach features a stunning azure blue sea with white sandy beaches, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and relaxing. Located in the municipality of Camogli, this hidden gem offers visitors a secluded spot to enjoy the sun and ocean views.
San Fruttuoso is home to one of Italy’s most remarkable sights: the 16th-century monastery known as Abbazia di San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte. This historical site stands directly in front of a limpid bay which allows visitors to explore both the natural beauty of San Fruttuoso’s seaside setting and its unique cultural heritage.
How to get there
The Abbey of San Fruttuoso is in a rather secluded bay. It can be reached either by boat (from various locations) or by walking the trails from either Camogli or Portofino. Both ways are beautiful and scenic!
During the summer months, the bay can be quite crowded. There is a regular ferry service from Camogli, just outside Genoa (it takes about 30 minutes), Rapallo (1 hour), Santa Margherita Ligure (45 minutes), and Portofino (30 minutes). The service depends on weather conditions, so if there is a storm, the service may be suspended. Check the details on the timing of boats on these websites: Golfo Paradiso and Traghetti Portofino.
You can reach San Fruttuoso by hiking the trails of the National Park of Portofino. The trails are easy and enjoyable, with incredible views from various panoramic points. There are two ways: The first is starting from Portofino Vetta, the walk takes about an hour and a half and is the most challenging one. The second option is starting from Portofino Mare: It’s also one hour and a half but is less hard than the first trail.
San Fruttuoso is one of those unique places in the world, that you need to see at least once in a lifetime. From its gorgeous coastal views to the tranquil atmosphere of its ancient monastery, it is easy to understand why this Italian gem has become such a popular destination. Whether soaking up the sun or taking in the rich history of the area, any traveler who visits San Fruttuoso will be sure to have an unforgettable experience. Do you know other places like this one? Let us know in the comments and share the post with your friends!