Festival of Fish and Fishermen

On the second weekend in May, Camogli celebrates fish, fisherman and its hometown saint, San Fortunato. This year, the weather was cloudy, but the festival, the Sagra del Pesce, went on.

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Friday afternoon, the two competing neighborhoods of the Pinetto and the Porto prepare their beach bonfires. The Pinetto’s is a replica of a sailing/rowing ship remembering that 2014 is the 300th anniversary of the arrival of San Fortunato’s remains in Camogli. They rest in a glass case in the Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, originally built in the twelfth century then successively renovated to its present day Baroque interior.

The Porto posts a sign in front of the Pinetto’s bonfire saying: Sembra Forte Cacca (It looks a lot like poop.)

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The Porto’s bonfire at the other end of the beach is a replica of the Castel Dragone, the town’s fortress, also built in the 12th century. The Pinetto posts a sign saying: Scafisti! (Nothing but smugglers!)

Friday evening, there is a swordfish dinner under a huge tent then a procession honoring San Fortunato. And, finally, fireworks on the beach.

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On Saturday night, the procession for San Fortunato is more elaborate with groups of men carrying massive crucifixes in wooden pouches. This group is from Ruta di Camogli, the part of town 1000 steps up the hill from the beach.

The procession comes down the main street of town, passing artisan booths that have been selling their wares all day. After all the crucifixes pass (including a very small one carried by a boy), comes the large palette with a statue of San Fortunato surrounded by candles. The procession ends at the Basilica where the men traditionally run up the steps with the heavy palette to roaring cheers of the crowd.

The town’s ceremonial rowing/sailing ship, the Dragun, passes along the beach with fireworks on its stern.

The crowd gathers for a massive fireworks display on the beach.

The Pinetto’s ship bonfire is lit.

At the other end of the beach, the Porto’s castle bonfire is burning, too.

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Sunday morning, beginning at 10:30, people line up for the fish fry in the largest pan in the world.

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Local volunteers cook three tons of fish in hot oil (taking their lunch break from 1:30-3:30).

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Five euro gets you this little basket.

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