The Christ of the Abyss is a bronze statue placed in 1954 on the bottom of the bay of San Fruttuoso, between Camogli and Portofino inside Portofino’s Protected Natural Marine Area, 15 meters deep.
The statue was born from an idea by Duilio Marcante following the death of Dario Gonzatti, one of the pioneers of scuba diving, during a dive in 1950. Duilio pushed for the installation of a statue of Christ on the seabed; on 22 August 1954 the statue of the Christ of the Abyss was placed in the bay in front of San Fruttuoso, between Camogli and Portofino, near the Abbey of San Fruttuoso. The statue, about 2.50 meters high and built by sculptor Guido Galletti, was placed by the Italian Navy about 15 meters deep, with the help of many divers. The hands of Christ, addressed to the surface (or heaven) are in a sign of peace.
The statue was cast with campaign and commemorative medals, parts of ships (even American submarine propellers donated by the U.S. Navy) and bells. Due to increasing amounts of corrosion, the statue was removed from the water and restored in 2003. A hand, found by the diver Enea Marrone, that had been detached by an anchor was also replaced.
The dive is relatively simple and shallow, and does not require special precautions. For those not able to see the statue in diving a copy thereof has been placed in the church of San Fruttuoso. The original plaster cast of the statue is instead stored at Marina di Ravenna in the National Museum of Underwater Activities. Another copy of the statue was placed in Florida, Key Largo, offered by Egidio Cressi. A further copy was placed in September 17, 1972 in Lake Palü, Val Malenco, in order to combat the indiscriminate depletion of the reservoir. There is another smaller copy of the Christ donated to the people of Grenada by the shipping company”Famiglia Costa” of Genoa.
For those who want to soak up the plentiful Ligurian sun instead, the little beach offers a tranquil afternoon in some of the clearest water you will ever see – and you won’t have too much company, as San Fruttuoso can only be accessed by a challenging hiking trail (more like an old mountain goat path) or by the hourly connections during the high season by boat from the nearby villages of Rapallo, Camogli, Santa Marherita Ligure or Portofino.