The Allure of the Ligurian Coast is embodied by its history, beautiful cities and centuries old monasteries, monasteries that are open to all visitors.

Written by eileen on October 4th, 2011

One of the most beguiling and often overlooked cities is Camogli.

Located along the Aurelia, an ancient Roman road, so named because it was constructed under the aegis of Emperor Marc Aurelia, the monastery has a beautiful view of the sea and the snow-laced Alps. It houses an important library of rare editions and antique parchments.

The welcoming ambience of the Italian people, the ease of getting around and the charms of the hilltop villages and sophisticated cities always make for a memorable trip. High on the list is the glorious Ligurian Coast. One of the most beguiling and often overlooked cities is Camogli.

Camogli occupies a pine-covered slope on the western side of the Portofino promontory. A distinctive and picturesque seaside town of narrow cobblestone lanes and porticoes, Camogli offers excellent views. The city has retained its atmospheric medieval center, highlighted by very tall, pastel-colored houses. The charm of the houses is accentuated by trompe l’oeil artwork, an artistic feature that can be seen in nearly every city along the Ligurian Coast.

For an outstanding day trip, the famous Abbey of San Fruttuoso is a monumental Benedictine compound that can be accessed by ferry or by a dramatic and inspiring cliff side walk that takes about 5 hours roundtrip. The majestic white abbey buildings are sheltered in a setting of pines and olive trees. Built in the 10th century, the medieval church reveals three naves, a Byzantine cupola and a romantic two-tiered cloister ornamented with columns and carved capitals.

The nearby fishing hamlet of San Rocco can be reached via a pretty walk of 5 km through olive trees and citrus groves. It is home to the Romanesque church of San Nicolo Recco. According to legend, the church was founded by Erice who built a temple dedicated to his mother.

Also close by, Portofino is one of the most exclusive resorts in Italy. A harbor town, it is anchored on a promontory overlooking the sea and coastline. What makes the town even more delightful are the brightly colored houses that edge the portside piazza and compose a postcard pretty picture. Hikers can take the road near the16th century Castle of San Giorgio through a woodland to the Punta del Capo lighthouse for a taste of serenity and beauty.

Nearby Genoa remains the most important harbor in Italy. It is laid out along the seashore like an amphitheater. A maze of narrow streets comprise the heart of the old city where humble houses, medieval churches and 16th century palaces stand side by side. The austere facades of the churches, often layers of black and white marble, belie the beauty within. The surrounding hilltops are scattered with walls and fortresses from the early 17th century. In the 13th century, the city was the main maritime power of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Some of the city’s sights include the Palazzo Rosso and its fine gallery showcasing Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Veronese and Durer while the Palazzo Bianco exhibits the works of Pontormo, Reubens and Van Dyck. The Staglieno is as much a sculpture garden as it is an amazing cemetery. Planned in the mid 15th century, it is a place unto itself. There’s a map that shows the way down through cedar and cypress-lined avenues to a cache of impressive monuments including the provocative granite and marble female figures on the tombstones.

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