Portofino Natural Park

Clutched between the hills and the sea, the path passes through olive tree terraces, thickets and sheer rocks facing the sea. Let's discover together the little cove which hosts the Abbey of San Fruttuoso!
  • Travelling time: 3h from Camogli to San Fruttuoso, 2h from San Fruttuoso to Portofino

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Why we love it: for the luxuriant and fiery vegetation in the crisp refuge of woods, for His Majesty the Maritime Pine, for the rock walls, dried by the sun and pushed towards the sea, on which the tough small bushes are hung. History has preserved this charming and fragile ecosystem, far from the monsters of the uncontrolled overbuilding. That's the Liguria we love.

  • Length: 10 km

  • Total Elevation Gain: 490 m

  • Way to travel: by foot, nordic walking, by boat

  • Cost: 0 €

  • Our Advice: avoid the Summer months! September could be a right balance to avoid hot weather and crowds, without giving up sea bathing. In the little villages of the coastline, the winter has a sorrowful charm, the beaches are desert, the tourists completely vanished. You choose! What do you prefer?

 

Map of the itinerary Camogli - San Fruttuoso
Itinerary Camogli - San Fruttuoso. Source: openstreetmap

 

 

Map of the itinerary San Fruttuoso-Portofino.
Itinerary San Fruttuoso-Portofino. Source: openstreetmap

 

Two girls are going up the stairs in the historical centre of Camogli
Historical centre of Camogli

Camogli, the “City of a Thousand White Sails”. Overlooking the Golfo Paradiso, this little maritime village belongs to the regional natural park of Portofino and it will be the starting point of our walk.

At the beginning of the historical centre, a huge pan draws our attention. That's the pan used to fry fish on the occasion of the big celebration which takes place in May to honour San Fortunato, the patron of fishermen.

It's worth exploring the centre before leaving: let's walk through the thigh alleys and the seafront promenade, to admire the colourful houses, the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, the Castle of Dragonara... And stocking up some focaccia for the trip!

View of Camogli from the beach, picture made at the dusk
Camogli. Foto di Simone A. Bertinotti via Flickr

Going towards east, we pass a car park and arrive where our path begins, running along the Rio Gentile. Soon the path starts to go up through olive tree terraces and isolated houses. The last staircase leads us to the hamlet of San Rocco. From the square of the church, we enjoy a beautiful view on the Golfo Paradiso.

We fill our canteens to the fountain on the right of the church and we are ready to leave again. 

The dusk seen from the church square of San Rocco di Camogli
San Rocco di Camogli

Two different paths start from San Rocco. We choose the one nearest to the sea. It is more difficult but also more panoramic. 

The first part is sheltered by trees and it hasn't particular difficulties. Arrived in Batteria, we can note some bunkers used by Germans in the Second World War. Here we take a detour and go down to Punta Chiappa (you can see it in the first picture) through a track that begins on the left of the first bunker and soon becomes a staircaise.

The Punta is made of the typical conglomerate of Portofino and it delimits the Golfo Paradiso. 

The mosaic at the beginning of the Punta is dedicated to the Stella Maris, Mary protector of seamen. Every year, the first August people celebrate her: in the morning, a procession on foot and by boat until takes place and ends in Punta Chiappa, where the boats are blessed. In the evening, hundreds of small coloured lights are lowered in the sea, in remembrance of those who died at sea.

A path passes across the trees, the sun seeps through the branches
Path from Camogli to San Fruttuoso. Picture by Andrea Puggioni

Returned to the main path, we go ahead until Passo del Bacio. Here the landscape changes: the path passes through the rock walls above the sea. In the more dangerous parts, there are some chains on which we can hang. Looking at the sea, we feel like diving in.  We are attracted by its bright reflections.

The landscape is wonderful, its colours something special: the contours are sharp, the pine needles shiny, the ochre colour of the rock transmits to us the tactile sensation of porosity...

 

The path to San Fruttuoso passes across the rocks
On the path to San Fruttuoso

 

At this point, we face a quite strong rise, partially sunny-exposed, that leads us near Punta Torretta. At the end of the rise, we cross the hill and go down towards San Fruttuoso. In proximity to the abbey, plants are domesticated by farming.

 

View of a hill coverd by trees in front of the sea, from the path to San Fruttuoso
View from the path

 

Finally, the first houses arise from vegetation. We start to be tired and once we arrive to the beach a sea bathing or a just a short footbath are the more reinvigorating thing we can desire. Passing underneath the arches behind the beach, we enter in a inner area. A fountain in the little square is our last possibility to fill the canteens until Portofino.

 

A particular of the abbey of San Fruttuoso
The abbey of San Fruttuoso. Picture by Renato Grisa via Flickr

 

The abbey of San Fruttuoso, not linked to the road network but reachable just by foot or by boat, is owned by FAI (Italian national trust) thanks to the Doria family's donation. You can find the opening times on the FAI website. There are special proposals for groups and school class, and an interesting agenda that propose also a concert season!

Now we are refreshed and it's time to go. Our eyes rest on the sunset light and we admire once again the colours of nature, their nuances.

 

An overhead view of the abbey
Picture by Stefano Piemonte via Flickr

 

We start again going up a precipitous rise; sometimes the vegetation let glimpse beautiful partial views.

After a series of hairpin turns, we reach the locality of Base 0, used as a military emplacement during the Second World War. From here it is possible arrive at Pietre Strette and the inner path, but we go ahead towards Portofino.

The way becomes more and more flat and goes inside a shady thicket. Arrived in Case di Prato we admire the sea of olives on the Portofino hill.

 

The path passes across the Monte Portofino, surrounded by trees
Monte di Portofino. Picture by Andrea Puggioni via Flickr

 

We go on until Vessinaro, where we ignore the detour to the Cala degli Inglesi. A dirt and flat pat twists and turn through the hill, punctuated of the mild light of the lampposts.

The dusk moves forward with us. In Cappelletta we go down to San Sebastiano and then to Palara; here, overtaken a fence for the wild animal, a staircase begins. It will lead us to our destination.

Arrived in Portofino, we walk sank in the silence of winter, our thoughts recall the imagines picked up during the day. Our legs are tired, but the soul is light, gratified by so much beauty.

A view of Portofino from the sea
Portofino. Picture by Marc Desbordes via Flickr



 

Useful informations:

Water:
Don't forget that the only places where you can fill your canteens of water are Camogli, San Rocco, San Fruttuoso e Portofino.

Battelli:
The boat lines link Camogli, San Fruttuoso e Portofino.
Use boat could be an excellent solution to shorten the itinerary and make it suitable for all the family. An example: you can arrive in San Fruttuoso by boat, walk until Portofino and come back by train. Some useful website are: golfoparadiso.it and traghettiportofino.it.

Other paths:
Many others paths come through the park! The itineraries are well indicated. You can find some interesting ideas on the website portofinotrek, where the paths' descriptions are really detailed.

 

Author: Anna Stella