The Amalfi Coast and the Cinque Terre may be the most well-known spots in Italy for walking trails with incredible views of the Mediterranean coastline; but here’s an equally spectacular, more off-the-beaten track suggestion: spend a few days in the fishing village of Camogli (photo below), just 30 minutes south of Genoa and about an hour up from the famous Cinque Terre. With its short – but not easy – hikes, beaches, good network of ferries, and great food, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled upon an undiscovered gem.
Hike 30 minutes to the church of San Rocco
A bit of uphill and then a gentle slope takes you to the pretty church of San Rocco. It’s a walk through olive groves, with a gorgeous view of Camogli and even Genoa in the distance. The path is signposted and marked with 2 red dots along the way.
Hike 2.5 hours to the fishing village and Abbey of San Fruttuoso (photo below):
Used as an abbey, a home for fishermen, a den for pirates, and then the property of Princes, the Abbey is now open for visits (except Mondays). San Fruttuoso is also a fishing village with a few restaurants, but is accessible only by boat or on foot.
Hike about an hour to Punta Chiappa
Visit San Rocco on your way, or head straight to Punta Chiappa, and lie on the beach or jump straight into the sea to cool off after your hike. It’s worth going to Punta Chiappa just to eat lunch or dinner at the Trattoria Do Spadin, which has great typical regional fare. (Info: Via San Nicolò Capodimonte, 55 Punta Chiappa, tel. 0185770624.) The restaurant is accessible only on foot or by boat, therefore its opening times depend on the ferries (and hence the weather), so definitely call ahead to check.
Hike 4 hours from Camogli to Portofino
This hike takes you via San Rocco and San Fruttuoso. After the San Fruttuoso Abbey, there’s a steep climb up, then the trail is fairly flat until the descent down into Portofino (90 minutes hiking from San Fruttuoso).
Not in the Mood for Hiking Back?
Hike to San Fruttuoso or Punta Chiappa one-way, have a long Italian lunch, and then take the boat back to Camogli (or the train, if you’ve hiked to Portofino). If there are people in your party who don’t want to hike at all, they can take the boat there, meet you, and take the boat back again.
Lie on the beach or visit the old town. Let the kids ride the carousel, play in the square, and see how many trompe l’oeil windows they can spot painted on the local houses. Eat fish (free at the fish festival on the second weekend of May) and don’t miss the local cheese focaccia, and the local pasta, trofie, with pesto. Eat gelato, ideally while walking along the boardwalk at 6 pm, during the Italian passeggiata. Visit a bakery to sample a sweet Camogliese, a chocolate-filled cream puff. Stop in to admire the architecture of the Basilica Santa Maria Assunta, and the castle and aquarium next door. If you’re there on a Wednesday, explore the local market stalls.
Take the train. Camogli’s population of 7,000 doubles in high season, mostly with Italians on holiday (many just go for the weekend). If you’ve decided to drive anyway, allow lots of time to be stuck in traffic as everyone else tries to find parking too. Parking strategies: try Piazza Matteotti and Via San Rocco, with free parking. Then try the pay parking in Via Cuneo and Piazza Matteotti. Still nothing? Head back towards Genoa a few miles, and look out for the Gulliver supermarket which has lots of pay parking spots and a free bus back to Camogli.
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