In the village of San Fruttuoso – in Camogli, in the province of Genoa – the Mediterranean whispers the lyrics of its most celebrated bard. Indeed poet Eugenio Montale, born in Liguria, dedicated a section of his masterpiece, “Cuttlefish Bones”, to “our sea” (as the ancient Romans called the Mediterranean): “At times I’ve lingered in the dark, dank caves, / some vast, some narrow, which absorb your force, / their mouths, seen from within, an architect’s bold outlines / painted in by sky. Up from your breast, / amid a sound of thunder, airy temples soared, / lights shooting from their spires…”
The Abbey of San Fruttuoso of Capodimonte faces this luminous sea. Built by Greek monks in the 10th century, it was rebuilt after one hundred years and renovated over and over until the 16th century.
It is named after the martyr bishop Fruttuoso, killed in Tarragona, in Catalonia, in 259 AD, during the eighth persecution of the Christians, under emperor Valerian. According to tradition, Fruttuoso appeared in the dreams of five monks, telling them where to bury his mortal remains – which rest to this day inside this church.
The abbey and the homonymous village are part of Portofino’s Regional Nature Park, and can be reached only descending a steep track from the mountain above.
Or arriving from the sea. The profile of the Abbey, discovered from the open water, recalls once more Montale’s verses: “Here was the dreamed-of homeland rising from the waves. / Emerging from confusion, here was clarity. / The exile was re-entering his uncorrupted country.”