Abbey by the Sea
Our second day in Liguria started out with a few road bumps. The plan was to take the ferry from Chiavari, where we were staying, past Portofino to San Fruttuoso, then make our way back to Portofino. We headed down to the ferry stop early in the morning and were informed by a nice Italian man who worked in the marina that the first boat would leave at 9:30 and we should be there 15 minutes early to buy a ticket. We wandered back into town and killed time eating breakfast then walked back to the marina... Only, as we walked down towards the ferry stop, we noticed group after group of people getting turned away. Uh oh. A woman had set up an information table and told us the ferries would not be running today due to rough seas. So now we had wasted a huge chunk of the morning waiting for a ferry only to be turned away. We recollected and hurried towards the train station, still determined to make it as far as possible. The train took another hour but we finally made it to Santa Margherita Ligure, the closest stop to Portofino and San Fruttuoso possible by train. From here we assumed we would need to catch a taxi to Portofino but in a last ditch effort we walked down to the water to see if there were any chance of making it to San Fruttuoso, which is only accessible by boat or by hiking. The lady at the tourist information center happily sold us tickets for the next ferry!
We still had to wait awhile more for this boat, but at last we were on the water and bobbing out towards the open sea. In all fairness to those ferry captains in Chiavari, the water was quite rough and the boat was tossed to and fro the whole way there, especially as we rounded a corner where the sea met the harbor at the edge of Portofino. The choppy ride and few mishaps were so worth it once we caught sight of this fascinating little abbey by the sea.
The Abbey of San Fruttuoso, which lies on the coast in between Portofino and Camogli, was built in the 10th century by Greek monks and since renovated several times. It has been used as a monastery, a pirate's den, a fisherman's home, and even the residence of the Princess of Doria. Today it is a great spot to enjoy a relaxed beach day apart from the usual crowds at other Ligurian beaches. We were starving from our journey and after snapping a few photos around the tiny town, we found a restaurant to the right of the main beach and snagged the seat at the edge of the cliff overlooking the water. I'd happily add this to one of the best lunches I've ever eaten. Trofie pasta with fresh pesto, a carafe of local sparkling wine, a view of the turquoise sea below, and the shade of the umbrella on a hot day--does it get any more perfect?