Portofino's underwater marvel
Rising up from the seabed just off the shore of the Italian Riviera, Christ of the Abyss is a remarkable bronze sculpture, installed in memory of a legendary Italian diver. Today it is one of the Mediterranean's most popular diving spots, attracting scuba enthusiasts from across the world.
Standing 17m below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, Christ of the Abyss, or Cristo degli Abissi in Italian, was designed by sculptor Guido Galletti, and placed on the seabed, not far offshore from the Abbey of San Fruttuoso, near the town of Portofino in 1954.
Cast in solid bronze, the 2.5m high statue depicts Christ, arms outstretched in a gesture of blessing and gazing upwards. It was installed on the initiative of diver Duilio Marcante as a memorial to his friend and fellow diver Dario Gonzatti, an Italian scuba pioneer, who tragically died near this spot in 1947.
Since then, Christ of the Abyss has become a popular focus for divers visiting the Italian Riviera and, lying in relatively shallow water not far from the shore, it's easily accessible if you are travelling on a private yacht charter along this coastline.
A Heavenly Diving Experience
The statue of Christ of the Abyss has come to hold a special significance among the worldwide diving community, as both a tribute to all divers who have lost their lives at sea, and as a symbol of protection, watching over today's underwater explorers in the Mediterranean. For many, diving here is a moving experience, and the fulfillment of a long-held wish.
Bronze for the statue was donated from a variety of sources, and included ships' bells, submarine propellers and the medals of Olympic athletes and soldiers who had fallen in combat, which Guido Galetti melted down and reformed into this symbol of peace.
If you are here on the last Sunday of July, you will witness one of Italy's most extraordinary and poignant religious ceremonies. An evening mass is held on the beach followed by an underwater procession to Christ of the Abyss, where a laurel wreath is placed at the statue's feet.
Bronze for the statue was donated from a variety of sources, and included ships' bells, submarine propellers and the medals of Olympic athletes and soldiers who had fallen in combat
Explore The Protected Marine Reserve
Christ of the Abyss was raised from the seabed for repairs in 2003, and was cleaned in 2018, so it is now in prime condition once more, and makes a dramatic backdrop for underwater photographs.
The statue is located inside the protected Portofino Marine Reserve, so you will encounter a wide variety of sea life here, too, including sponges, red coral, groupers, moray eels and many other fish species. Add to this the clarity of the water, which has a naturally blue colour, and you'll see why this is among the most popular dive sites in Italy.
If you are enjoying a superyacht vacation in Italy, take time for a stopover in this little bay on the stunning coastline of the Cinque Terre. Diving into the Ligurian Sea to visit Christ of the Abyss is sure to be a highpoint of your itinerary.