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.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).