Per la strada che porta a Camogli
Andava un uomo con sette mogli
Ed ogni moglie aveva sette sacchi
Ed in ogni sacco c’erano sette gatti
Tra gatti, sacchi e moglie
In quanti andavano a Camogli?
On the road to Camogli
Went a man with seven wives
And every wife had seven sacks
And in every sack there were seven cats.
Between cats, sacks and wives
How many were going to Camogli?
Camogli is famous in Italy for the nursery rhyme, Per la Strada che porta a Camogli. It is the Italian version of the English nursery rhyme, As I was going to St. Ives, in the form of a riddle.
The small fishing village of Camogli gets its name from Casa Mogli (house of wives) because fisherman were away at sea so long that their spouses were often alone. Camogli’s houses, painted in different colors, look out to the sea so that fisherman could recognize their homes while out fishing.
Camogli used to be a bustling seaport until the end of the 19th century. Known as the “city of a thousand white sails”, its harbor was packed full of tall ships. It’s famous fleet is said to have fought alongside Napoleon in the Battle of Trafalgar. When Charles Dickens visited Camogli, he said it was the “saltiest, roughest, most piratical little place”.
Today, although not as glamorous as Portofino, Camogli is perhaps just as pretty. Like many towns in Liguria, what makes Camogli’s houses so appealing to the eye is an optical illusion. Due to lack of resources and materials needed to frame windows with marble or stone carvings, artisans blended creativity and ingenuity to perfect the art of the trompe l’oeil frescoes. These lovely and ornate details on buildings, applied by the stroke of a brush, can sometimes look so real that you might need to run your hand against the wall to make sure they are indeed flat.
We were in Camogli for lunch then took a boat to the hamlet of San Fruttuoso. Its monastery sits at the top of a very tiny and lush bay that is only accessible by foot or boat. Placed about 17 meters into the sea, near the spot where the first Italian to use SCUBA gear died, is Il Cristo degli Abissi (Christ of the Abyss). This bronze statue depicts Christ with his hands and head raised toward the sky, as if offering a blessing.
San Fruttuoso below