Camogli – Photo © Alberto Pareto

Camogli and the Sagra del Pesce (Fish Festival).

Camogli is a small Italian fishing village and tourist resort located in the province of Genoa on the Italian Riviera. The name “Camogli” of the village means “house of wives“, because the colored faces of the houses on the beach were useful to help fishermen to come back at home even with bad weather.

The small town of Camogli is a great place to explore. Its houses are clustered together above the sea, and are brilliantly painted “trompe l’oeuil”, with fake windows, balustrades, etc… One would think for the money they put into painting their homes they could have easily put in real windows etc., but of course that is not the point, as the walls of the houses are very thick.

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Camogli overlooks the Paradise Gulf and it closes in the east with the Portofino promontory.

For some time tourist activities have substituted those that were directly linked to the sea, which is an old and rooted tradition that began to decline at the end of the 19th century. However, this process didn’t cause a disorganized growth of Camogli that has a unique structure and extraordinary environmental elements that make it a fantastic tourist attraction.

During the summer months the little beach of Camogli is jammed with bathers; during summer weekends and in August the town is particularly overwhelmed, but in spring and autumn you can savor the place almost all for yourself, specially in the weekdays.

Camogli – sagra del pesce – Photo © stefanomaina

Sagra del Pesce Festival, Camogli

The highlight of the festival of San Fortunato, held on the second Sunday of May each year, is the Sagra del Pesce, a crowded, festive, and free-to-the-public feast of freshly caught fish, cooked outside at the port in a frying pan 5 meters (16.40 ft.)wide.

Thousands of guests flock around the giant saucepan, 5 meters (16.40 ft.) across with a 7 meter handle. For an entire day, the fishermen abandon their nets for sieves, flour, oil and the enormous saucepan with cooks on all sides, surrounded by boys and girls from Camogli who are ready with a smile to distribute the freshly fried fish. The fish is handed out free to those present, so find yourself a prime spot!

The story: the fame of the “Sagra del Pesce” (Fish Feast) of Camogli coincides with that of its famous gigantic pan. It all began in the beginning of 1952 when about 20 fishermen wanted to attract the attention of tourists by donating fried fish during the feast of St. Fortunato, the patron of fishermen.

Sagra del Pesce - Photo © edithbruck
Sagra del Pesce – Photo © edithbruck

This event was a great success and no one had expected such an outcome therefore the organizers of the feast had to fry fish all day.

The following year the idea was once again proposed and Lorenzo Viacava a famous fisherman known as “O Napoli”, decided to build a gigantic pan for the occasion, which became the attraction of an event that had already become a real and true feast.

Thanks to the New York Herald Tribune, King Baldovino of Belgium, and a 1955 Eurovision telecast, the fame of the event became of international importance.

Don’t miss in Camogli…

San Fruttoso Abbey
San Fruttoso Abbey

Camogli is the starting point for trekking, or a boat ride to the San Fruttuoso Abbey.

In summertime, on Saturdays, the night boat trip to Genoa from Portofino and Camogli is very romantic.

When and how to get there:

Camogli is completely closed to private traffic on the day of the festival. To get there, take a Trenitalia train to the Camogli station or a tourist ferry.

Where to stay in Camogli

Hotels, villas, apartments and B&Bs in Camogli: search and make a reservation here.

Camogli - Photo © Enrico Massetti
Camogli – Photo © Enrico Massetti

San Valentino Festival in Camogli

This festival takes place from the 7th-14th February, during which there are audiences with poets taking part in the “Fall in love with poetry” project: this is a cultural project which will see several “poetic installations” in the streets and more romantic piazzas of Camogli.

The collection of all the poems read or exhibited will then be published. In addition, there will be a St. Valentine’s market on the promenade, selling leather goods, jewelry, ceramics and wooden gifts.

There will also be sweets and cakes made by the Camogli bakers specially for the occasion. There will no doubt be special menus on offer at many restaurants, allowing couples to dine at prices especially designed for the occasion too.

Another project is the “Lovers’ tiles”, on which you can write your own message of love, and a panel of journalists and artists will select the most beautiful and collect them in a book. Clearly, the most romantic way to reach Camogli is by boat.