Soar over the forested promontory of Portofino on the Golfo Paradiso, past the craggy Aleppo pines that cling to the rocky coast, and land upon the edge of the Ligurian village of Camogli, a riot of color against a green hillside.
Meander through the ancient
carruggi (Ligurian for alleys) and step onto the sun drenched Via Garibaldi, the seafront thoroughfare. Follow the scent of salt and weathered wood through an archway and stand in Piazza Colombo.
Glance to the left and ascend the stairs to the entrance of the 12th century Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta (Our Lady of the Assumption). Stoop to run your palms over the churchyard’s bumpy
risseu (Ligurian for, literally, “stone embroidery”) beneath your feet, large black and white pebbles in geometrical patterns.
Enter the nave and stand in awe in the hushed semi-darkness that has held the dreams and fears of the people of Camogli for eight hundred years, as well as the remains and relics of the town’s two patron saints, San Fortunato and San Prospero. Marvel at the Baroque interior, lush with marble and gilt.
Drop coins in the plain square box at the back of the church and stand transfixed as the fifty plus crystal chandeliers come to life and shower you with God’s light. Wish and pray that you could stand there forever.
— Contributed by Susan Pohlman, a freelance writer who lived for a year in Liguria with her husband and two children. Her book about the experience, Halfway to Each Other, will be available Sept. 1.