San Fruttuoso abbey

San Fruttuoso, Italy

The Abbey of San Fruttuoso is on the Italian Riviera between Camogli and Portofino. The abbey is located in a small bay beneath a steep wooded hill. It can only be reached by sea or by hiking trails, there is no road access.

The abbey is dedicated to Saint Fructuosus, a third-century bishop of Tarraco (now Tarragona in north-east Spain) who was martyred under the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Valerian. In the eighth century the relics of Fructuosus were moved here by Greek monks. St Fructuosus's ashes are still kept at the abbey.

The abbey was founded by the Order of Saint Benedict and most of its buildings date to the tenth and eleventh centuries. The original tenth-century church tower had a Byzantine-style spherical top; this was later replaced by the present octagonal tower. The cloisters are twelfth century and were modified in the sixteenth century by Andrea Doria. The building facing the sea was built in the thirteenth century to a similar design to the noble palaces of Genoa.

The abbey contains tombs of members of the noble Genoan Doria family dating from 1275 to 1305, along with other tombs and an ancient Roman sarcophagus. The Doria tombs have black and white stripes, typical of Ligurian architecture of the period.

Above the abbey stands Torre Doria, a watchtower erected in 1562 by the family of Admiral Andrea Doria (1466–1560), who defended the abbey and its supply of fresh water from Barbary pirates.

In the 17th century the abbey went into decline, and parts of it were used for keeping sheep. In 1730 Camillo Doria restored the abbey, and returned the church to liturgical use. Some of the buildings were damaged by flooding in 1915, these were restored by the Italian state in 1933. In 1983 the Doria Pamphili family donated the San Fruttuoso complex to the heritage organisation Fondo Ambiente Italiano.

The underwater statue Christ of the Abyss was installed in the sea off San Fruttuoso in 1954, at a depth of 17 metres.



Your name


Founded: 10th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Italy

More Information


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Márcio (2 years ago)
Beautiful monastery built in 977, and only accessible by boat or foot. If you come in the summer, you can swim in the little beach (a truly jewel). We were here in october, so we didn’t swim. We took a boat from Camogli (€15 round trip) and spent an hour just strolling around. It is possible to visit the monastery inside (€8 per person). There is a restaurant and a cafeteria, but none was open during our visit.
Shanaab Gaming (2 years ago)
Went there by hiking. Amazing experience. There are two sections at the beach. A paid one with umbrellas and adjustable seats. The other is free, however, it is crowded and might not find a spot.
Sasha.M (2 years ago)
The most beautiful peace of sea I have ever seen. It's so clear you can drink from it. Beach is small, and crowded yes, few bars and church, that's all, but it's worth to visit for few hours just to enjoy and swim in this fantastic crystal clear sea.
Gabor Czako (2 years ago)
The Abbey is a good example of how the Italian Tourism Authority is trying to restore abandoned holy places and draw tourists to visit. Well done! Access is only by s 40 minutes boat trip, but that in itself is a unique experience. The exhibition is quite basic, but very informative. Everything both in English and Italian. God those who want to swim there is opportunity in the small harbour.
Scot S (3 years ago)
Great place to visit but only accessible by ferry boat or a trail from a parking area. Don’t know how long the hike in or out is because we took the ferry from Camogli, which took 30 minutes. Makes for beautiful photos and there’s a nice restaurant right on 1 of the beaches.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week


The Pilgrimage Church of Wies (Wieskirche) is an oval rococo church, designed in the late 1740s by Dominikus Zimmermann. It is located in the foothills of the Alps in the municipality of Steingaden.

The sanctuary of Wies is a pilgrimage church extraordinarily well-preserved in the beautiful setting of an Alpine valley, and is a perfect masterpiece of Rococo art and creative genius, as well as an exceptional testimony to a civilization that has disappeared.

The hamlet of Wies, in 1738, is said to have been the setting of a miracle in which tears were seen on a simple wooden figure of Christ mounted on a column that was no longer venerated by the Premonstratensian monks of the Abbey. A wooden chapel constructed in the fields housed the miraculous statue for some time. However, pilgrims from Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and even Italy became so numerous that the Abbot of the Premonstratensians of Steingaden decided to construct a splendid sanctuary.