Camogli, situated in the north-west Italian region of Liguria, between Genoa and Portofino, is a fishing settlement rather than a beach resort. Camogli’s rather ordinary shopping street a block or so inland from the coast, with the railway station, main bus stop and information office at one end, provides no clue to what is just round the corner. Step out onto the promenade and take a sharp breath. This is as much a hallucination as a view. In one direction, beyond a tottering cliff, the vast wooded cape of the promontory reaches out, crowned at the halfway point by a domed church, looking almost inaccessibly high. During poor weather the upper slopes may be lost in cloud. In the other direction Camogli’s own church stands above a stony beach, backed by a ruined fortification, on a short peninsula. The more distant curve of the Ligurian coast behind it sweeps away to Genoa and far beyond, a visual summary of the Italian Riviera.
Camogli’s little headland is a hill village in miniature, with a few houses as well as the church clustered around a couple of narrow lanes, steps and a vaulted passageway, with the remains of the stone fort guarding them at the back. From here, the landward view is filled by several tiers of pastel-painted tenements six or seven storeys high and very old.
West of the church is the real centre of Camogli, its harbour. There are a few pleasure craft, but fishing boats comprise by far the majority moored here, most of them small and some no larger than rowing skiffs, reflecting a concentration on inshore fishing. Along the quay, nets are hung up to dry – adorned with Valentine’s Day messages when we were there – and on the road nearby there are one or two shops where the daily catch is sold.
There’s not a lot to do in Camogli itself apart from enjoying the atmosphere of the town, loitering by the harbour and enjoying a drink or meal at one of several places along the front. (These aren’t cheap, but the fish will certainly be fresh.) Recommended for artists, photographers and as the start or finish of a walk on the Portofino promontory.