Sunday, May 8, 2011

Camogli - A visit to the town of the Houses of Wives

One of my many character flaws is that I am easily distracted.   Life takes a hold of me by the throat, shakes me around a little bit and I fly off in an unanticipated direction focused, or obsessed as Ollie calls it, with some random project until I get distracted by something else.  My most recent focus has been my ongoing quest for an Italian driver's license, a cautionary tale I will discuss in detail in an upcoming post, but in the meantime, I've begun to miss writing my blog.  So, I have decided to return from my hiatus, or recess as I prefer to think of it,  and tell you about our adventures from the last several months.


Not too far from Genova on the western side of the Portofino peninsula along the Gulf of Paradise, lies the little town of Camogli.  In Italian mogli means "wives" and this is the town of the houses of wives.  Now, with only 5000 or so inhabitants, it is hard to imagine that not so many years ago, this village was home to a fleet of 3000 ships and played a critical role in the Napoleonic wars and the war in the Crimea.  The name comes from the women who waited.  They ran the town and lived their lives while their husbands, brothers and sons went to sea, many to never return.

With the exception of the windows and the shutters, all the details of this building are painted...or maybe not...

Today, Camogli is famous for it's tall buildings and the beautiful trompe l'oeil paintings on their walls.
On the isola, stands the medieval Castel Dragone and the Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta.  Once this was an island, separated from the land mass.
 Camogli's other claim to fame are the twin celebrations of the Feast of San Fortunato, the patron saint of the town, and the Sagra di Pesce, or fish sagra.  Yesterday, we decided to brave the crowds and travel to Camogli, about 1/2 hour away by train, for the Feast of San Fortunato.  The feast is symbolized by the burning of two enormous structures, one on each side of the town, started by a fireline reaching from the Castel Dragone.

One of the structures waiting to be lit at midnight.

The Carabinieri don't appear to be particularly concerned.
Also a special night for this young bride.

Unfortunately, as we got on the train, Ollie got his hand smashed in the door, so our enthusiasm for this excursion was significantly diminished.    Still, we were both hungry, so we sought out a restaurant I'd been thinking about for some time, and now was the perfect opportunity.  The Ristorante Taberna Mexicana Don Ricardo!  One of the few Mexican restaurants in this part of Italy.  Perfectly authentic, perhaps not, but the closest thing to a real burrito I've had since leaving California.

Today is the Fish Sagra, and we won't be returning since neither of us is particularly fond a fish, but the town pulls out all the stops for visitors from all over Italy and the world.

Today this enormous frying pan will be filled with frying fish to be handed out to the town's guests.


  1. Glad to see this new post! I think I just saw more of Genoa on here than when I visited the city.

  2. Your photos are so beautiful! You make me totally homesick for Italy. I've only been to Genoa once, and the main thing I remember is my first taste of ricotta di pecora. So yummy. Camogli looks totally worth a visit. I love the photo of the castle.

  3. Beautiful photos, I particularly like the one with the bride and the groom because it makes the post look more personal! Should visit Camogli asap!