Liguria’s Camogli – paradise on the Italian Riviera

Hannah Bellis visits Camogli in Liguria and explores a colourful beach front paradise that is perhaps not so undiscovered as she thinks


In May I visited Liguria for the very first time. I was expecting water – this skinny northern Italian strip is practically all coastline, so I figured I would find somewhere special to swim.

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 14.34.57

Without the aid of a full summer to warm the water, it was pretty cold, but not unbearably so. On a day in Camogli, I was inspired enough by the beautiful coloured houses and picturesque seafront where fishermen sat mending their nets to venture forth onto the beach. Having had a generously oiled chunk of Ligurian foccacia beforehand also helped me summon the courage to strip to my bikini on the pebble beach on a sightly overcast May morning – I ascribe to the Italian theory that there is no health problem that can’t be helped with a good olive oil.



Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 14.37.05I strode briskly into the water, much to the astonishment of the few elderly Italians who were sitting in chairs on the beach wrapped in their coats. It was cold enough to make me hesitate as the water crept over my navel, but not for long, and I launched myself into the sea with the rapid intakes of breath that accompany a swim when the water is not quite warm enough. It may have been cold, but it was stunningly clean and clear, and within half a minute the cold was forgotten and I was enjoying the serenity of the moment, with the gentle splashing my strokes made in the still, clean water. The bell in the clock tower began to chime and I really felt like I was in Italy – though a very long way from behaving like an Italian. I can’t have been in the water for more than four minutes when I decided enough was enough and withdrew for a restorative espresso and dry off in a sea front bar.




It felt like an undiscovered and unique moment, so I was more than surprised to see the very beach where I swam on the television the next day. I was on a coach back home from Gatwick airport, watching BBC’s The Trip on my iPhone, which I had downloaded for the journey. There, on a terrace overlooking my ‘undiscovered’ beach stood Steve Cogan and Rob Brydon, behind them the very cloak tower that had struck in my swim. It’s there at the end of the first one and the beginning of the second one too – but they had the sun for their visit! Didn’t see them getting into the water though, the chickens.


You can read more about beautiful Camogli in Italia 120.

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 14.35.42