Abbey of S.Fruttuoso

Abbey of S. Fruttuoso The hamlet of San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte lies on a rocky bay at the confluence of two deep valleys dotted with springs. It is the only landing stage on the southern side of the headland and is really a few houses and a tiny beach located in the shadow of the abbey.

The latter is an architectonic jewel that has recently been returned to its old glory following careful restoration by the Italian Environment Fund (more commonly known as FAI), owner of the complex since 1983. The first religious community settled in the small bay in the early the 8th century, perhaps in 711. Prosper, Bishop of Tarragona, arrived here and founded the first monastery after fleeing from the Moors with the remains of St Fructuosus.

According to legend, though, the founding took place 5 centuries earlier, in 259. The story goes that two lions showed the area of the monastery to two disciples of the saint, who were also escaping from Spain with the saint’s relics and had landed on the beach after being washed ashore during a tempest.

The first settlement managed to resist the Saracen attacks until the 10th century, when (in 984) a donation from the Empress Adelaide, widow of Otto I, enabled the current church to be built. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Benedictine abbey building, on the sea side, was added. Under the Benedictines, San Fruttuoso gained power and privilege, coming to own land from Piedmont to Sardinia.

In 1275, at the height of its political and economic power (the monks owned the fishing trade and charged a tithe of a tenth of all fish caught on this stretch of coast), the complex passed into the hands of the Doria family of Genoa. This family protected the abbey and, in return, was allowed to have the family tomb at San Fruttuoso.

Their burial area was created in 1305 on the site of the old refectory, on the east side of the cloister. The monumental tombs are made of white marble and black stone. They are placed against each other and are surmounted by sunlights with pointed arches supported by small marble columns. The Gothic abbey complex, looking over the sea, is from the same period. It has a loggia with two levels of three-light windows and was built using money donated by the Doria family. The same family was responsible for constructing the lookout tower. It was built in 1561 after the abbey was abandoned by the monks, following raids by Turks and pirates, and the whole complex went to this powerful Genoese family. The decline, though, was swift.

For centuries this has been a major religious, political and economic force on the headland, and beyond. In the 17th century, it was turned into a sheepfold and wood store. The first restoration work was carried out by the then commendatory abbot, Camillo Doria, in 1730. Yet, major work had to wait until 1983, when the complex passed into the hands of FAI. Today, the old cloister is used for prestigious musical events involving international chamber groups. The artistic director is Maestro Massimo Paderni, who is responsible for overseeing the programme, choosing the chamber groups and making sure that local musicians are not overlooked.

The event, though, is not a narrow musical event, but a wide ranging show with anything from Renaissance songs and dancing, to Bach, Mozart and Hindemith, to jazz.


Abbey of S. Fruttuoso
tel. 0185772703
Mar, Apr, Oct: 10am-4pm closed Mon (except holidays);
May-Sept: every day 10am- 6pm;
Dec-Feb only holidays and the day before 10am- 4pm;
Nov: closed.

The abbey is connected to Camogli by a trail and there are regular boat connections (Servizio Marittimo del Tigullio, via Palestro 8, Santa Margherita Ligure, tel. 0185284670).

Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa

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