Portofino - Hike Camogli to San Fruttuoso

Explore Portofino Peninsula from a Pretty Ligurian Town

Camogli waterfront, Liguria
Partial waterfront view of Camogli, Liguria. 
The Portofino Peninsula and its towns of Camogli, Rapallo, Santa Margherita, and Portofino are well known for very good reason. They are beautiful, accessible, offer good hikes and walks, people-watching, and good tourist services. We walked this popular hike in May when the violet iris had recently surrendered, the sun was bright and welcome, and the air perfumed by the blooms of unseen flowers.  We used the trail description from two websites. One is Portofinotrek.com.which is now available in English and French as well as Italian. The other is the official Park of Portofino site, which is multilingual. These excellent resources have interactive maps, nicely accessible and clear trail descriptions, and useful links. Below there are transport links, links to two Portofino stories we've done, and one restaurant idea.

Trail from Camogli to San Fruttuoso and its beach
San Rocco. A Station of the Cross along the trail.
The trail we followed is a nice introduction to the Monte di Portofino and provides amenities to create a memorable outing for many kinds of hikers. The route starts in pretty Camogli, down the coast from Genova and Recco, climbs up to the Sanctuary of San Rocco, encircles the wooded Monte di Portofino, descends to the monastery/port of San Fruttuoso, and then takes a boat back to Camogli.  Here's a rough Map. The hike part takes from 2 1/2 to 3 hours with rest stops, covers about 5 km, rises and drops about 500 meters, and is of moderate difficulty. Moderate difficulty does NOT mean it's a piece of cake. You are going over a small mountain - walking on stones much of the time. Treat it seriously, be prudent, and take your time. That said, we are in our sixties and far from health nuts, and we had a great time, though we were glad to see the trail end. We didn't see any surprising dangers, and we enjoyed watching Italian school kids of 10-12 years old handling the trail easily.

Travel Tip_____________________________________________________________________
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Portofino trail marker
Getting There. From the A12 Autostrada, Genova-Livorno, take the Recco / Camogli exit. Drive toward the center of Recco, and at a traffic circle there, follow a directional sign to Camogli.  Keep driving and do not turnoff into streets marked ZTL or residents only.  Drive to and park in the large Parking area 1 at the far end of Camogli.  Parking is by payment and in 2011 the rate was 1.50 Euro per hour, change only!

If arriving by bus, train, or by more distant parking, walk all the way through Camogli, along the pretty waterfront, and pass into Parking Lot 1 by going through the small streets as the waterfront ends. A link to the Italian train website and the website for the bus system in this area - ATP - are below.

The Hike. This is one of two routes from Camogli to San Fruttuoso, and although this one is less spectacular than the route that passes the Batterie (old cannon emplacements) via the seaward side of the mountain, it's also much less rigorous and therefore can be walked with children who are accustomed to hiking.

At Camogli begin on Via Boschetto, along a marked trail near the Carabiniere headquarters which is in a corner of Parking 1, furthest from the sea. The trail marker is 2 red dots and a red circle. Later the 2 red dot trail branches off, and we'll follow a single red circle. The trail follows the Torrente Gentile up along a small street.  Soon you reach a villa's gate where the trail passes to the left, and begins to rise along stairs flanked by dry-laid stone walls and houses and gardens.

The trail follows the stairs. Specifically, the trail follows about 800 stairs which are mercifully only about 6 inches high. This lack of decision making will allow you to look around and enjoy the flowers, the distant views of houses and churches, the forest rising above. After about 30 minutes of steady climbing, you reach the settlement around the church of San Rocco at 219 meters above sea level.  There's a bar, and a bakery, expansive views, a potable water fountain, and plenty of sea air. Several restaurants are along the road entering the town.

Travel Tip___________________________________________________________________
Our Hotel Guide & City Selector gives the Pluses and Minuses of other excellent Ligurian towns:
Part 1 Liguria Hotel Guide & City Selector  Cinque Terre South. Lerici, Portovenere, La Spezia. Visit Cinque Terre & enjoy the Gulf of the Poets as well.
Part 2 Liguria Hotel Guide & City Selector  Cinque Terre North. Levanto, Bonassola, Moneglia, Sestri Levante, Lavagna, Chiavari. Visit both Cinque Terre & Portofino.
Part 3 Liguria Hotel Guide & City Selector Towns on the perfect Portofino Peninsula.
Rapallo, Santa Margherita, Portofino, Camogli, Recco.

San Rocco trail
San Rocco Junction. Go left.

Continue just to the right of the church, going up the stairs (the Batterie trail is on the far right) in the direction Galletti / San Fruttuoso via Pietre Strette. Fig trees and flowers, houses and gardens line the trail as we continue up. This path also serves as The Stations of the Cross, marked by the painted tile shrines donated by local families. Slowly the trail leaves houses behind, and then the fields slowly become rougher, and we walk though a chestnut forest on the slopes of Monte Portofino. Compared to the stairs, it's essentially level and thus appreciated.

After about 20 minutes, we reach a trail intersection known as Galletti or Gaixella at 412 meters altitude, where the trail from Ruta is joined. There is water here, and some picnic tables. Turn right and enjoy the wide smooth trail. Continuing on the easy path through forested mountain slopes, there are views of Santa Margherita peeking between the trees. After about 15 minutes, imposing rocky masses announce that you've reached Pietre Strette (rock straits) at 464 meters, a trail junction with benches, water, and a bilingual sign explaining the geology of these Portofino conglomerate masses (a/k/a pudding stone). Turn right, and then a quick left, and you are headed downhill to San Fruttuoso. The path is well signed.

Trail to San Fruttuoso and its beach
Tornanti down to San Fruttuoso.
The walk down takes almost an hour. On the way, here's an Italian word to practice: tornante, which means hairpin turn. The descent down to the sea consists almost entirely  of tornanti. Watch your footing, as on the downhill, it's disconcertingly easy to have your feet slip out from under you. The forest is pretty and clearly Mediterranean, often darkly shaded in the ravines. Soon you'll start following a stream, which gets larger and prettier as you go. When you are good and sick of the descent, it's over. The Doria tower comes in to view, and the noise of an Italian beach becomes clear. San Fruttuoso is buzzing with activity. To explore, there's the Doria tower, and the Monastery, and who could not watch a busy Italian beach for an hour.

San Fruttuoso and its beach, Portofino Park
San Fruttuoso and its beach.

After your visit, the boat dock is obvious. The schedules may be posted up the stairs from the dock where you might not see them. Each boat has it's own ticket seller who will help you figure out which boat is yours. You'll be back in Camogli in about 30 minutes after a very scenic ride around the peninsula. We have a full article on the Camogli ferry - see below.

Transport Links
Bus Service ATP For tips on Italian bus schedules, also see our Getting Around La Spezia article.
Trains There is train service in Camogli, Rapallo, and Santa Margherita.

Our Ligurian Ferry Articles
Spring Cinque Terre, La Spezia Area Boat Ferry Schedules.
Summer Cinque Terre, Portovenere, La Spezia Boat / Ferry Schedules
Fall Cinque Terre, La Spezia Area Boat Ferry Schedules.

Portofino Ferry Boat Schedules from Rapallo and Santa Margherita
Camogli to San Fruttuoso Ferry Boats with Recco & Portofino 

Some of our Liguria Travel Articles
Getting to Portovenere   All about buses, parking, hiking, taxis, hotels, boats in Portovenere.
Portovenere Travel Guide - The Top Ten Attractions Portovenere's attractions for reasonable folk
Castle to Castle Along the Gulf of the Poets All about Lerici - exploring, parking and hotels.

Getting Around La Spezia  Describes parking in La Spezia, as well as bus info and other goodies.
La Spezia Travel Guide: Top Ten Attractions as told by people who  have actually been there.
A Guide to the Local Food around La Spezia  Food of the area, as told by expert mangioni.
Getting to Portofino - Walking, Hiking, and More  Describes fabulous walking and hiking from Santa Margherita Ligure to Portofino.
Portofino - From Fishing Village to Icon How did fame arrive? It will make you sing!

The Most Beautiful Villages of Liguria Part 1 The Rock Villages A 7-part series covering 28 great little towns.

Buddy Can You Spare a Click? 
If we've helped, you can thank us by using these links to get quotes and/or reserve your car rental.
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Written by Martha