One of my dearest friends is the wonderful Louise Wright, a card carrying Italophile, who received a degree in Italian Culture and Language from the Universita’ per Stranieri in Siena in 2003. For many years, whenever we are not traveling, we have a Friday afternoon tradition of calling each other up and talking and reading to each other in Italian.
Louise has been traveling to Italy for decades–visiting friends, discovering new places, and always seeking beautiful experiences that immerse her into authentic Italian life. One of her favorite spots is Camogli, a small seaside village on the Ligurian coast. I’m thrilled she’s joining in to share her advice for a Golden Day there…
I was first introduced to Camogli about 20 years ago while staying with my lovely Ligurian friend Patrizia and her family, who live a half-hour train ride south. The name, Camogli, comes from “le case delle moglie” (Houses of the Wives), as the town originated as a fishing village. It grew to be a maritime power: The City of a Thousand White Ships. Today the soul of its origins remains–you still see men coming out of the doorways at dusk and heading away from the tiny harbor in a small lighted procession of fishing boats. The town is a delight, with tall painted buildings and much natural beauty surrounding it.
It’s easily accessible by train, and a relaxing base for day trips to Genova, Portofino, Santa Margherita, and Chiavari. It’s bordered by Monte Portofino, a great place to hike.
Or you can take a boat to the medieval Abbazia di San Fruttuoso.
My Golden Day begins with foccacia from Revello Focacceria (Via Giuseppe Garibaldi 197/A), followed by a swim in the bay.
Then I’d take a short bus ride from Via Repubblica up to San Rocco (you may have to change at Ruta or make the pleasant, flat, walk from Ruta to San Rocco) and a half-hour hike down the trail to Punta Chiappa. (Bus schedules are posted at the bus stops).
There your reward is lunch at Trattoria del Mulino Da Drin, (Punta Chiappa-Camogli, 0185 770530, reservations a must, closed Tues in winter).
Da Drin has a glorious view, with a terrace overlooking the Golfo di Paradiso, fabulous seafood (spaghetti with anchovies) and my favorite, Pesto al Mandilli=a light-as-air “handkerchief” of hand-made pasta.
After lunch, a boat ride back to Camogli is fun and it’s very dramatic to return by sea.
Click here for the boat schedules or they are listed at the Camogli port. They even have trips to the Cinque Terre and Portovenere during July and August, although I don’t think I’d pick those busy months to visit Camogli. You can take the boat both ways from Camogli to Punta Chiappa, or if you’re feeling robust, you may hike round trip–there is a trail from Camogli to San Rocco and then on to Punta Chiappa.
Back in Camogli, the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta is worth a look.
It was built around 1200, and is quite beautiful inside. If you’re there on a weekend, you are sure to see a wedding–with elegant brides and grooms posing for photos.
Early evening, join the locals for the passeggiata along the seaside promenade, Via Garibaldi, with it’s exquisite sea and mountain views, and great people-watching. You may enjoy a gelato stop at Gelato e Dintorni (Via Garibaldi 104).
Or or an apertivo at the elegant Bar Primula, (Via Garibaldi 140, Tel: 0185 770 351).
Or head to the harbor for a cocktail at Bistingo Sea Bar (Piazza Colombo12, 0185 772 531 Closed Mon).
For a delicious dinner, I’d choose either Caffe del Teatro, (Piazza Matteotti 3, Reserve: 0185 772572, closed Thursdays)–a casual, budget-friendly place with indoor and outdoor tables that serves good pizza and salads…
Or Ristorante Camogliese (Via Garibaldi 78, Must reserve: 0185771086, Closed Wed, except July and August).
It faces the sea, with fabulous views. The best menu offerings are the local fish specialties and Pesto Trenette=pasta, potatoes, green beans and pesto.
Two hotels I’d recommend are, Hotel La Camogliese (Via Garibaldi 55, 0185771402)…
Or for something a bit more pricey, there’s the Hotel Casmona, (Salita Pineto 13, 0185 770015), that’s very nice as well.
*A couple of other tips:
—The Tourist Office (Via XX Settembre 29), is down the road to your right upon exiting the train station. They have trail maps for Monte di Portofino as well as Camogli.
—On arrival at the Camogli train station, the steep steps to Via Garibaldi are a bit daunting, especially with luggage. If you are staying at La Camogliese, follow the road left, (Via Cuneo), winding down towards Via Garibaldi–it’s much easier to roll that luggage downhill on the road, rather than take the steps.