Every year in late July in Liguria there’s a unique procession. Divers taking part in it put a wreath at the monument standing on the seabed. They sanctify the patron of sailors and divers - Christ of the Abyss.
The statues of Christ stand in several places of the world, serving as a symbol of the city that created them. They look at the area from the tops of hills, and... from beneath the water surface. One of them lies on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea, between Camogli and Portofino, approx. 30 km east of Genoa. It’s called Il Cristo degli Abissi (Christ of the Abyss). This 2.5-meter high bronze sculpture by Guido Galletti, depicts the Savior with raised hands.
The sculptures of Christ can be seen in two more places - in the waters of Key Largo in Florida and the Caribbean, off the coast of St George.
Diving in San Fruttuoso
Christ of the Abyss stands on the seabed since August 22nd 1954 looking toward the surface of the water with a depth of approx. 17 meters. The sculpture was sunk near the place where Dario Gonzatti died, one of the pioneers of Italian diving. To the waters in which it’s located, doesn’t lead any land road. You can reach the place through walking trail in Portofino or by boat – they run regularly during the season.
Wonderful water clarity makes it possible to look at the figure even when snorkeling. No wonder, because it’s one of the most popular dive sites in the whole region of Liguria. The more that this place is also good for beginners in the topic of diving. Volunteers learn about the world beneath the surface of the water, going down to a depth of 7-40 meters under the supervision of an instructor from San Fruttuoso Diving Center.
The region - dream for divers
Diving enthusiasts come here from different countries, to see the sculpture of Il Cristo degli Abissi submerged in water and covered in greenish-blue light. Observed from that perspective makes a big impression. To be able to dive here, you need the certificate of PADI.
A large part of the coast is protected. From Camogli to Santa Margherita Ligure stretches the area where the access to water is designated only in few places. An additional difficulty is the jagged coastline, cut with stone, steep cliffs. The majority of beaches is located in Santa Margherita Ligure, while Portofino doesn’t have them at all (both the resort and in its center).
Perhaps this region isn’t ideal for lovers of swimming and sunbathing, but is a dream for divers. They can enjoy around 20 points, where they can devote to exploring the underwater world in a specially organized groups. Those, who are interested must sign up in local diving agencies.
Nature lovers (especially those, who like to explore the area by foot) are enchanted by the beauty of the walking paths in National Park, extending around Portofino. In its southern parts you can admire carefully tended gardens, plants and flowers, while the northern part is more wooded.
Portofino itself is visited by tourists, which are not afraid of high bills in the restaurants of one of the most expensive Italian resorts. The most prestigious ones are located along the wharf, and their menu is dominated by dishes of fish that are caught every day in the waters of the bay.
Campsite around Portofino
Those, who want to spend the night in this part of the coast, can stay in Camping Genova Est. It’s located approx. 20 km west of Portofino, and a parking space for a motorhome costs approx. 7,9-8,7 euros per night. Night stay for an adult costs 6-7 euros, while access to electricity - 3 euros.
Although Portofino might not be too friendly for your wallet, it’s worth a visit even just for a short time. Not only because it’s on the route to Christ from the Abyss. According to the inhabitants of Liguria, spring begins here about a month earlier than in other parts of northern Italy.