logo ente parco di portofino

San Rocco - Pietre Strette - San Fruttuoso

The route runs through the north-west side of Mt. Portofino and gradually passes from cultivated areas to abandoned fields and the woods. On the first part of the route you go along a mule track that rises by the church of San Rocco: the Nostra Signora della Salute Sanctuary.

Your eyes can embrace the view from Punta Chiappa to Capo Mele, following the outline of peaks and ridges of the mountains, up to the Maritime Alps that is covered with snow for most of the year. With clear air conditions you can recognize every town of the Riviera along the coast, and the city in the background as though it had flowed down from the valleys towards the Mediterranean sea.

From village Galletti you climb a few large and low stairs on the right of the houses; cobbled paving now replaces the cement floor. Galletti is an ancient settlement whose name derives from the hoopoe, “Galletto de marso” in the Genoese dialect. The path runs the past the stone walls where the growing vegetation is suited for the particular dry climate. In fact these walls are exposed to the sun rays, that slowly dry them, for a long time.

Among the stones of the wall, besides typical plants such as ceterach and pennywort you can also find reed valerian, that grows on calcareous dry rocks, walls and ruins, and ivy. Further on the lane penetrates the mixed vegetation of the wood, leaving the olive groves behind. Near Sacro Cuore niche you reach an area once cultivates with chestnut trees for chestnut harvesting, where a green, that was once a football pitch a few decades ago in spite of the steep hillside, stops the wood.

Thick vegetation of strawberry tree, vetch, tree heath, blackberry bush and brier rose grow in the underbrush. After the chestnut wood the rock changes into big and irregular conglomerate clasts. These rocks overlap the Mt. Antola limestone that form the lower part of the Rio Gentile valley. Near the contact between these formations it is easy to find some springs.

This is the origin of the Acqua Fredda spring surrounded by musks and ferns (particularly fascinating is the maidenhair plant covering) just before the end of the itinerary in the picnic area of Gaixella.

The itinerary starts near a small picnic area with drinking waters, beneath the huge and disturbing RAI television aerials, in the black hornbeam and chestnut tree copse and its typical underbrush, that is different every season.

Along the very first rise you can see the contact surface between the limestone of Mt. Antola and the Portofino conglomerate, and the fresh limestone blocks, dug during the reconstruction works of the route, that are fractured and have been greatly strained in the past, when the conglomerate overlapped this formation.

You soon arrive at the shady, damp and quite cold Fogliacci area; the ground is covered by ivy, anemone, scilla and liverwort blooms soars through it in spring.

You can see small furrows on the path floor: they are made by the field mice that run along them safe from the greedy eys of birds of prey. The underbrush is full of thorns near the arrival, and this makes you think that once it was frequently cleared by using the controlled fire technique and by arson.

The last part develops through the chestnut tree wood with huge conglomerate towers one near each other, that give the name to Pietre Strette.

The area of Pietre Strette is the pedestrian heart of the Park; from here you can reach Santa Margherita, Gave, Paraggi, Portofino Mare, Base 0, san Fruttuoso, Toca, Mt. Tocco and the Semaforo Vecchio, or you can rest and take shelter in the picnic area that has recently been provided with drinking water and comprehensive signposts.

This steep and tortuous pedestrian route is the shortest link between the village of San Fruttuoso and the municipality of Camogli, when sea conditions are bad.

It is very similar to many other that slope the hillsides bounding the coastline of the Promontory. It is interesting to observe the outcrops and the path floor while descending. The pebbles of the ground were made using the most resistant elements of the conglomerate. The environment is ever fresh and shady under the evergreen trees, not dried by long sunny periods and the underbrush is consequently fair thin.

The path turns leaving the valley towards the sunny southern hillsides, damaged by many past fires. After a little while you arrive at a white tank with water flowing inside. The water of five springs is collected in this area, called Caselle, and subsequently carried to San Fruttuoso by a small aqueduct.

Further in, you start to see terraces all around; the morphology of the hillsides has been changed here by man for farming. Elderly people can still remember the extraordinary olive harvesting due to the splendid exposure to the sun of the olive groves, the cutting of the Mauritanian grass stalks, used for nets and baskets, and that of the red juniper.

You arrive at Molini area, through fascinating panoramic view towards the low part of the valley, where a recently opened “agririfugio” (agricultural mountain cottage) stands. The old terraces, with their drystone walls made from conglomerate rocks of all sizes, have been restored and the olive groves are well cultivated.

The 16th century Doria tower, built in 1562  in defence of the Moor pirates raids, stands near the houses of San Fruttuoso. It was an elementary school from 1880 and now hosts the cultural initiative of FAI (Italian Environment Fund).

Along the last part of the itinerary you can see an odd series of machines, such as the “battilisca” to pay out the “tonnarella” of Camogli ropes weaved once with the “lisca” (Mauritania grass) and now with coconut thread, which is not a local material but it is totally biodegradable.

You soon arrive at the churchyard of San Fruttuoso Abbey with its austere dome, where this itinerary ends. You must visit this village where, besides the fascinating not-to-be-missed monumental complex, you may be surprised to see spring on the beach behind the last arcades of the convent.