That’s it. Over. Despite it still being 30 degrees here, summer has officially ended.
By now, most Italians have returned to their everyday lives in il rientro, abbronzato – tanned, refreshed, and exceptionally grumpy; as you might expect after some have enjoyed up to a month away, usually by the sea.
It’s definitely noticeable on the roads and in the office now. More traffic and bums in seats at their desks. That torturous start of the week is today multiplied by about another 1000.
In order to ease the pain (or perhaps prolong), longer morning coffee breaks are taken to discuss:
“Com’è andata la tua vacanza?” How was your vacation?
This weekend I went to Camogli to mourn the last proper weekend of summer. Camogli sits alongside its better known siblings of Portofino and Cinqueterre on the Italian Riviera of Liguria.
It shares the same characteristic postcard worthy painted houses, but also boasts some impressive Tromp l’Oeil decorated building facades.
The sea is gloriously blue and clean and you can pick up a delicious foccacia (or 3 in my case) to eat by the sea. My favourite was focaccia col formaggio, a specialty from the nearby town of Recco – a much thinner sheet of dough containing an incredibly tasty, gooey cheese.
After a quick dip in the sea at Comogli and buying my foccacia, I took the boat to San Fruttuosa. The boat leaves on the hour, every hour and the ticket was 13€ return from the little hut by the boat stop run by Golfo Paradiso.
The boat was large and comfortable, but all the best seats were gone by the time I got on. It would’ve been nice to have been sat on the top deck with a better view, but even still, the short ride was beautiful. There’s always been something melancholic to me about boat rides, and this one in particular, surrounded by all that beauty, felt to me like I was sailing away and leaving all of my troubles behind.
Arrival at San Fruttuosa meant being greeted by the abbey. Nestled into the cliff side among the trees, it shone in pale stone, a towering protector of the cove.
I then walked past this first beach and arrived to the second, smaller beach.
The pebbled cove was completely full of towels and sunbeds but I managed to secure a spot on the rocks to leave my towel and bag and then dived straight into the crystal waters.
The swimming area is cordoned off, but if you venture outside of it (taking care of the many passing boats) and follow the rocky shoreline around to the left for a little while, you see a buoy with a small flag on it. This marks the spot of the underwater statue: “Cristo degli Abissi” – Christ of the Abyss. It’s a popular spot for scuba divers, and was put there on 22nd August, 1954 to commemorate the death of Dario Gonzatti who was the first Italian to use SCUBA gear, and who died near this spot in 1947. It’s around 18m underwater, but at an impressive 2.5m in height, it’s easily visible from the surface, Christ stood with his arms reaching upwards towards the heavens, towards the light.
The sculptor Guido Galletti melted and fused together the bronze metal of bells; ships; naval artifacts; and medals of mariners, Olympic athletes, firefighters, and even of soldiers who died in combat who had their medals donated by their mothers. Cristo degli Abissi stands there as a tribute to all those who have lost their lives at sea, and as a protector of those who still dwell, work and play in and around these waters.