Camogli: An Oasis on the Italian Riviera [Gallery]
Tucked away in a corner of Italy's eastern coast, the small, sun-soaked village of Camogli walks a line between traditional and modern Italy right on the Mediterrean. Reachable by rail and by boat, Camogli sits firmly on the Italian Riviera as a suburb in the province of Genova which in and of itself remains slightly off the grid when it comes to Italian tourism. So while Camogli has enough qualities to attract tourists, it's lack of stature as a prominent destination gives visitors who do arrive to its pebbly shores a relatively undisturbed retreat.
The colorful façade of expensive apartments encircle the beach, richly painted in colorful shades of peaches, yellow and coral and often topped off with green accent by way of shutters and trim. Their origins trace back to when the village supported itself off of fishing and the colorful homes helped fisherman see their way back. Just beyond the housing resides a skyline made up of towering tree covered mountains. Blue sky and clouds that roam over the mountain peaks give Camogli a far-off, picturesque feel. Sparse palm trees lend a tropical touch.
With a population of 6,000, Camogli is rather small and it's easy to find the beach to yourself as the sun begins to set, even at the height of summer. Certainly you'll find tanned bodies spread across towels during the day, especially when lunch time allows residents a chance to bath under the sun while on break, but there's room for all on the spacious shore. While Genova contains the oldest city center in all of Europe and was once the center of the continent's trade and wealth, the province still attracts far less people than larger tourism hubs like Milan or Rome.
Plotted prominently on Camogli's beach is surf shack run by a coterie of sun-kissed and chiseled young men in tiny swim briefs ready to lease out surfboards and other basic beach paraphernalia to visitors. There's a scuba shop just a short walk away through an alley way. It also remains a village in which boats are still launched by the hands of large groups of men. It's not uncommon to see men of all ages joining together to launch boats into the sea. The bulk of the village's boat take up residence in an adjoining bay to the right of the main shore, but various vessels can be found everywhere throughout Camogli. Rugged cliffs keep fierce waves at bay, but there's still some splash to Camogli's surf.
Other attractions include a local market that decorates a corner of the beach where patrons can find vintage instruments, brass cooking ware, jewelry and more. Local cafes and patisseries cater to the town's patrons and common snacks include shortbread cookies sold by weight and various kinds of focaccia bread from onion layered on top to slices of tomatoes. Narrow streets, endless staircases and scattered alleys guide toward a small amount of retail shops catering to footwear and swimwear.
There's not much distraction which allows Camogli to feel like an escape. Camogli can be boiled down to its waves, the view and the history clearly seeped into its surrounding buildings. The village makes for a great day-trip when in the country visiting other Italian destinations or a longer stay for further relaxation. Its level of affordability married with it lux feel makes Camogli a good port of call.
Images by Nilina Mason-Campbell