At Essential Sailing, we love the history, culture and cuisine of the places we visit almost as much as the sailing to get there. Our Captain’s Blog brings you a taste of what to expect from our luxury crewed sailing holidays around the French and Italian Riviera. In this blog we find seclusion in the seashore monastery of San Fruttuoso

Sit back and be inspired.

San Fruttuoso is neither a port or a resort and is not much more than an indentation along a mountainous coastline, accessible only from the sea or on foot. But it has two powerful attractions – one is an ancient Benedictine monastery and the other the Christ of the Abyss.

The Benedictine monastery is a lovely stone building with a small dome, which straddles the beach. Parts are medieval, some Romanesque, and the burial vaults of the aristocratic Doria family of Genoa are here. Until nature decided to throw up a beach in quite recent times, boats moored directly under the supporting arches of the monastery and could unload directly into the cellars. You can still walk beneath these arches and find the odd boat or two resting on the stones out of the weather. There is some exploring to do at San Fruttuoso, but the main monastery building and the sixteenth-century watch tower a short walk away are not always open – local information offices can supply the details.

The Christ of the Abyss (Cristo degli Abissi) is an above-life-size bronze statue a little way offshore and over fifty feet under the sea. You can see a replica in the church next to the monastery. It has only existed for a few decades, being commissioned after a drowning, but both the idea and the sculpture itself are deeply poignant. Far down in the dim waters, Christ’s face and arms are raised towards the source of light. This has become something like a shrine to divers and a pilgrimage site. If San Fruttuoso were south of Rome rather than north, we should be hearing of miracles. A copy has been placed in the warm waters of Florida.

There are several eating and drinking places at San Fruttuoso, although fewer and more improvised than one might imagine from local publicity. The little beach is just big enough to use as a ‘holiday’ beach and there’s scuba diving along the coast here. Behind the monastery rises a great slope covered mostly in Mediterranean pine and holm oak. You can also see old olive terraces which are being laboriously cleared of scrub and revived under an agriturismo programme.

Richard Reeves is the founder of Essential Sailing and if you have been inspired to relax on a luxury sailing holiday, why not make this idyllic world your reality.

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