History: The ancient Roman historian, Plinius, called Portofino «Portus Delphini», a latin denomination that comes from the fact that the surroundings sea was frequented by a lot of Dolphins. To navigate is necessary for many people, for others it is a pastime. There are those who work on the sea, those who idle, the poor and rich of the sea, those who earn millions and others who spend millions. Immense noisy ports are necessary for the former while small quiet inlets are sufficient for the latter. Without doubts, this magical hamlet in the Italian Riviera is one of the most famous refuges in Europe and one of the most adapted to shelter sporting boats. There is not one Italian, English, French, Belgian or Dutch yacht that has not anchored in this enchanting gem at least once.
As for many other places in Liguria, it is impossible to indicate the origins because they are lost in the most remote past. Also, the fact that the village archives were burnt by fanatics during the Révolution française makes its ancient history even more obscure. Porto fino, however, rivals in antiquity with any other town on Ligurian soil. It is obvious to deduce that in ancient times the Tigulians started to inhabit the land around the bay, probably enticed by what they could profit from the natural port as it was an easy shelter for ships of those times during storms. At that time the abundance of fish was also an attraction for the inhabitants of the gulf. As a matter of fact, as has already been mentioned, Plinius referred to «Portus Delphini» when he visited the Gulf of Tigullia. It is reasonable to believe that when Liguria was conquered by the Romans, this natural Piazzetta came under their government and then passed to the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. It remained in their control until Saint Adelagia, empress and queen of Italy, came into power, and in 986 she gave it along with other lands to the Monastery of San Fruttuoso (abbey of the Benedictine monks built in a cove at the base of the Mount). Saint Adelagia was inspired to make such a precious gift for the soul of her consort, Otho the Great, and for the health of her son, Otho II, who our Lord had saved from a storm at sea due to the merits of the holiest Fruttuoso and the prayers of his fellow monks.
This gem, remained under the Benedictine monks until the year 1171 when questions arose between them and the inhabitants and consuls of that area. A compromise was made by Ansaldo Doria, Rolando Marino, Elia Da Banca and Armando, prior of San Fruttuoso, and on February 18th, 1171 a decree was issued in which the inhabitants of the fishing hamlet passed under the civil jurisdiction of the Rapallese consuls who had to pay the monastery 70 lire. In 1414 the army of france tyrannized Ligurians under the protest of protecting it until the Genoese became tired of this and threw off the french yoke. Thus the French, seeing themselves obliged to abandon this italian region, sold various castles, among which the little harbour, to the Florentines. The Genoese asked the Florentines for an explanation of this abuse of power and, not being given a reason, declared war which came to a friendly end in the same year and this little paradise was returned to the Genoa.
In 1425 Tommaso of Campofregoso had to liberate Genoa from the rule of the duke of Milan and attacked many holdings, including this one which he took possession of, under the Genova Republic. But the Fregoso family held the gem of the Italian Riviera for only a few years and as Giustiniani writes in book IV of his annals, in 1430 it was recovered by Francesco Spinola, son of Ottobono. The republic added the village to the territory of Rapallo and included it in the so-called quarter of Pescino which comprised in 1642 the parishes of Santa Margherita Ligure, Corte, San Siro, Nozarego and so on. The republic ruled - this natural port - as a feudal estate and every year they sent a governor, chosen from a patrician family, there: this governor resided in the fortress on the peninsula and also commanded the garrison troops. There were only two of this type of government, one in the Gulf of Tigullio and the other at Ventimiglia: their administration was entrusted to four consuls. This system of government only lasted for fourteen years, then Giovanni Antonio Fiesco, who was at war with the republic, occupied the "dolphins home" but after a short time, he surrendered it to Genoa.
Scene: The delightful bay reflects the perennial green of the pines that stretch out their airy branches over its deep blue waters and it is ringed by steep lush green hills, serenely profiled against the sky. Castles, villas, large and small, and cottages that can only be approached by steep foot-paths perch on hillocks or lie halfway up from the coastline: they are half concealed by vine and olive leaves and rest in blissful contemplation of the small underlying port and distant sea. Today is still a place known for international tourism and the jet-set lifestyle.
The bay from where Ferrari takes its name, is located in a small area – 2 kmq – making it rigorously pedestrian. It is often called the most beautiful Piazzetta. It is a unique sort of salon en plein air, filled with magic and charm. Within a few steps, you can visit famous ateliers and see some outstanding yachts at the marina decks – which hosts yachts from 8 meters up to 60. You may see fishermen organizing their nets and witness unforgettable sunsets of pastel colors on the bay. Many International fashion houses chose the Piazzetta as their home- included among them are Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, Emilio Pucci and many more. You can find these boutiques and the principal hotels in «Via Roma», the main street starts from the parking area and ends at the «Piazzetta» or on the two piers Molo Umberto I and Calata Marconi. Besides Shopping at the Ateliers, you may choose to visit many local boutiques that sell handmade clothes and lace, cashmere garments, bikinis and other local products. In recent times it has been a requisite stop for billionaires who travel the Mediterranean on their super-yachts in summer. Why the enduring appeal? “This famous port maintains much the same feel that drew celebrities and Italian industrialists in the 50s and 60s for a simple reason: The main draw is its stunning beauty.
After the storm of November 2018, the hamlet is reachable only by ferry. So we suggest to park in Santa Margherita Ligure and then to use the ferry to arrive in this little gem. When you arrive, please check the return time and spend your day walking in the Piazzetta, eating out or even a walk to the lighthouse. The panoramic road will be back probably in June 2019. If you want to know how many days you need to visit this little village near Cinque Terre, we can say that a couple of days could be enough. In about a couple of hours you can be in Milano of Florence for shopping or in Versilia for nightlife and in less of 1 hour you can be in the fabulous Cinque Terre to be immersed in the middle of the natural park. Don't forget that the historical city of Genoa, can offer different interesting things to see, for example, the Palazzo dei Rolli street who has been named patrimony of the UNESCO and the fantastic bay of San Fruttuoso with the Christ of the Abyss.
So, you probably can schedule to stay for more than two days adding some interesting excursion in the surroundings. You can live these experiences during the day and be back to enjoy a romantic dinner in the Piazzetta.Continue reading the local guide to know the things to do
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