Thursday, 26 September 2013

Portofino and the Abbey of San Fruttuoso

Extract from my latest piece for Baku Magazine - here.
As autumn approaches I am reflecting on this Summer’s main holiday, a gallop around the Italian Riviera, a short sojourn in Florence and a microstop in Rome. Two weeks.
I was determined to live La Dolce Vita, scooter around a la Hepburn on her Roman Holiday, shake-shake-shake-senora and of course do plenty of livin’ la vida loca. I blame pop-culture.
It all started in Portofino. In the province of Genoa, Portofino is a former fishing village turned glossy upmarket resort. The harbour fizzes and glitters. It is crowded with lithe tanned bodies, statement handbags and bare backs. I discern the occasional American accent, although it’s owner is not your typical fanny-pack tourist. It’s all Ralph Lauren catalogue families twisting lobster linguini around forks received by Amorone stained lips. Music flits through the air from the jaded mouths of moustachioed restaurant singers. We bid them goodbye and sail away from Portofino to the small hamlet of San Fruttuoso.

The Abbey of San Fruttuoso of Capodimonte is nestled in a small sheltered bay.  According to legend, Bishop Fruttoso came to five monks in a dream. He told them to seek the place of the dragon, a cave and a spring, where they should bury his remains. Together with an angel, the monks defeated the dragon and discovered the invisible Capodimonte bay. The tower stands overlooking the turquoise Ligurian waters. The Abbey can only be reached by a two hour hike from the main harbour or by sea, so it bears little wonder that it has stood here since the 10th century. The inside of the abbey is quiet, with its crypt and cool cloisters betraying no breath of the hot August afternoon beyond them.
The boat leaves the bay and heads East (dont they always?), the olive groves against the red sky dissolving into a soft pimento blur.