For Sunday Miscellany, William Wall on the Italian fishing port of Camogli - listen to The Sea That Defies Time above...

There is a mysterious stone plaque in the little Ligurian town of Camogli. I have never been able to discover who put it there. It contains an inscription that must surely be part of a poem, but if so, it is not part of any poem that I have ever been able to find. It reads:

Mare tu sfidi il tempo dall'alba del mondo. O sea, you defy time since the dawn of the world.

The speaker or writer is addressing the sea in the familiar second person, as one would a friend, a child, or a lover. And this little town has been a seaport and a fishing port since the barbarians left, or settled down or whatever they did, somewhere around the tenth century, and the inhabitants came down from their hill towns to inhabit the coastlines.


Once upon a time it had so many ships that it earned the nickname, 'city of a thousand sails’. It contributed a large part of Napoleon’s fleet at the Battle of the Nile as well as funding the ships that brought Garibaldi’s thousand redshirts to Sicily. And of course, Genoa is a near neighbour, the birthplace of Cristopher Columbus, and one of the most powerful seaports of the Mediterranean for hundreds of years...

Listen to more from Sunday Miscellany here.