CAMOGLI was the “saltiest, roughest, most piratical little place”, according to Dickens when he visited the town. Though it still has the “smell of fish, and seaweed, and old rope” that the author relished, it’s had its rough edges knocked off since his day, and is now one of the most attractive small resorts along this stretch of the coast. The town’s name, a contraction of Casa Mogli (House of Wives), comes from the days when voyages lasted for years and the women ran the port while the men were away. Camogli supported a huge fleet of seven hundred vessels in its day, which once saw off Napoleon. The town declined in the age of steam, but has been reborn as a classy getaway without the exaggerated prices found further round the coast.
Camogli’s serried towers of nineteenth-century apartment blocks line up above the waterfront and a small promontory topped with the medieval Castello Dragone, on one side of which there’s a busy harbour, crammed with fishing boats, and on the other a section of pebble beach, backed by a long promenade of bars and restaurants.
Open or wrapped?
Open or wrapped?
If you’re visiting Camogli on the second Sunday in May, you won’t be able to miss the Sagra del Pesce, preceded on the Saturday night by fireworks and a huge bonfire. This generous – and smelly – event has its origins in celebrating the munificence of the sea and retains its ancient resonance for Camogli’s fisherfolk even today. Thousands of fish are plucked fresh from the waves, flipped into a giant frying-pan set up on the harbourfront and distributed free of charge to all and sundry as a demonstration of the sea’s abundance. In recent years the event has been beset by quibbles: bureaucrats have suggested that the frying pan – some 4m across – is a health hazard, and there have even been allegations that frozen fish is defrosted out at sea and then passed off as fresh. For all that, local enthusiasm for the festival hasn’t waned one bit.