Portofino and San Fruttuoso

Yesterday, we took a train from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure. From there, we took a boat to San Fruttuoso and Portofino. At this time of year, the boat normally stops at Rapallo, but the Rapallo dock is under repair and the boat can’t stop there for another week or two, so the train ride was a necessary element of the journey.

I think they heard we were coming and decided that this was a good time to work on the dock. But, maybe I’m being paranoid. Perhaps it was just a coincidence. Although, as the saying goes, being paranoid doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone isn’t out to get you.

A chandelier in a Rapallo church
A chandelier in a Rapallo church

Unfortunately, we just missed a train from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure. However, that gave us an opportunity to poke our heads—along with the rest of our bodies, the garments clothing them, and the possessions we carried with us—into a church near the train station. To my eye, it was a nice, but not spectacular church. But it had …

If you read my posts on the churches we found when we tried to follow the red carpet walkway and in Camogli, you know what follows the ellipsis at the end of the preceding paragraph. Yes, that’s right … more crystal chandeliers. This provides confirming evidence for my theory that God got the chandeliers wholesale for the churches on the Portofino peninsula.

San Fruttuoso

The only way in or out of San Fruttuoso is by boat or by hiking trail over a high hill/mountain. As already mentioned, we took the boat option.

A view of San Fruttuoso from the boat
A view of San Fruttuoso from the boat

San Fruttuoso is, basically, an old monastery (the San Fruttuoso Abbey), a stoney beach, and a few other buildings. The abbey is dedicated to Saint Fruttuosus, who I believe is the patron saint of fructose. Either that or “Fruttuoso” shares a derivation with “virtuoso,” In which case, San Fruttuoso was the patron saint of fruit experts.

Although, I might be wrong. There is a slight chance it’s neither. You should do your own research. However, if you are one of those anti-vaccination crazies for whom “doing your own research” means reading conspiracy theories posted online by random lunatics, then don’t bother doing your own research. Just accept what I said. It’s probably no more absurd than what you would come up with.

Two-level cloister at the abbey
Two-level cloister at the abbey

The monastery is old. Most of the structures date to the tenth and eleventh centuries. The buildings include a couple of small chapels; some other small rooms; a small two-level cloister; and tombs.

Some of the rooms of the abbey currently display placards with descriptive and historical information about the abbey. One told us that the monks abandoned the monastery quite some time ago (I forget when, but it was centuries ago) because they tired of being frequently plundered by pirates. Ah, life by the sea. There’s nothing like it, is there?

Another of the buildings in San Fruttuoso is an imposing, square watchtower built on a rock by the family of Admiral Andrea Doria.

View from one of the rooms of the abbey
View from one of the rooms of the abbey

There were a number of hiking trails up the hills surrounding San Fruttuoso, but time was short. Plus, neither my sister nor I have the youngest of legs. True, my sister has the feet of a twenty-year-old, but that’s only the twenty-year-old gave them away after becoming thoroughly fed up with her feet and their dysfunctional abnormalities. As it turns out, my sister should have kept her own feet. The point is, we didn’t do any of the hill-hiking.

Some of the smaller buildings in San Fruttuoso contain small restaurants. One is perched on a rock close to the waterfront. There, we had a lovely lunch of pesto and clam spaghetti before catching the boat to Portofino. We did have time for lunch, because meals take priority. Always. As it should be.

Portofino

By the Portofino waterfront
By the Portofino waterfront

For decades, Portofino was a vacation spot for the rich and famous. I was afraid that, before I got off the boat, town administrators would come aboard and demand to see my financial statements and proof that I had a sufficient number of Twitter followers. I wouldn’t have passed muster on either score.

Fortunately, it’s not as exclusive as I feared. They’ll let anyone into Portofino, even plebeians such as me.

Portofino is beautiful. Colourful buildings surround the small harbour and climb up the hills. That is to say, they don’t actually climb. The buildings are stationary. But buildings are at different levels up the side of the hill. You’re probably clever enough to figure that out for yourself. And if you’re not clever enough, it occurs to me that I should do a lot more explaining in this journal than I do.

Camera-loving seagull (or whatever)
Camera-loving seagull (or whatever)

Walking around the waterfront, a yellow billed and yellow footed seagull confronted us. Although, “confronted” is not quite the right word. The seagull was quite sanguine. It sat there, seemingly intentionally mugging for the cameras of people taking pictures, including me.

I call it a seagull because it looked distinctly like a seagull except for its bright yellow bill and beak. For all I know, it could have been another type of bird. I’m not an ornithologist. I’m reasonably certain it wasn’t, say, an eagle or an owl, but I can’t say for certain it was a seagull. I apologize profusely to the bird if I insulted it by calling it a seagull.

Yet another chandelier in a church
Yet another chandelier in a church

Of course, the town had churches. We went into two. The first was plain and boxy, with few adornments.

The second church was bigger and moderately grander. In keeping with what seems to be the already noted local tradition, it had crystal chandeliers.

One of the sights we particularly wanted to see was a small park with modern sculptures. We weren’t aware of the fact before going, but it closes only one day a week. Tuesdays. We were there on a Tuesday. Life is like that sometimes. What am I talking about? What a crazy thing to say. Life is like that far too often.

We saw from the outside that the park was infested with sculptures. That is to say, they were crammed into the small space.

View of Portofino from up a hill
View of Portofino from up a hill

After trying and failing to go into the park, we climbed a set of steps to an old castle on a hill. The castle included a room with black and white pictures of some of the famous people who visited Portofino in the golden days of Portofino. Another room contained a model of Portofino, with bunched-up pillows forming the hills behind the town. I thought of taking a nap, but the model builders probably wouldn’t have appreciated me crushing Portofino.

Yet another room displayed a vertigo-inducing video on the walls and ceiling. We didn’t stay for much of the video, but the part we did see showed the laying of and quickly traveling along the now nonexistent red carpet that briefly ran along the walk from Rapallo to Portofino.

The castle and the small garden in front of it provided gorgeous panoramic views of Portofino and the surrounding area. The panoramic photograph below displays a portion of said panoramic view.

Panoramic view of Portofino and surrounding area

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