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Portofino Italy

Portus Delphini One of the eight wonder of the world

Portofino the fishing village in the Italian Riviera


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 doubt this little 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 little gem at least once.

As for many other places in Liguria, it is impossible to indicate the origins of Portofino because they are lost in the most remote past. Also, the fact that the village archives were burnt by fanatics during the French Revolution makes its ancient history even more obscure. Portofino, however, rivals in antiquity with any other town on Ligurian soil. It is obvious to deduce that in ancient times the Tigulii Ligurians 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 Portofino 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 of Portofino). 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.

Portofino remained under the Benedictine monks until the year 1171 when questions arose between them and the inhabitants and consuls of Portofino and Rapallo. 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 Portofino passed under the civil jurisdiction of the Rapallese consuls who had to pay the monastery 70 Genoese lire. In 1414 the French tyrannized Liguria 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 Liguria, sold various Ligurian castles, among which Portofino, 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 Portofino was returned to the Genoese.

In 1425 Tommaso of Campofregoso had to liberate Genoa from the rule of the duke of Milan and attacked many holdings, including Portofino which he took possession of, under the Genoese Republic. But the Fregoso family held Portofino for only a few years and as Giustiniani writes in book IV of his annals, in 1430 it was recovered by the Genoese lead by Francesco Spinola, son of Ottobono. In fact, Andreolo Prato, owner of a part of Portofino and acting as its representative, swore fidelity to the Genoese Republic in the same year. (F. Federici: Scrutinio della nobilta ligustica). The republic added Portofino to the territory of Rapallo and included it in the so-called quarter of Pescino which comprised in 1642 the parishes of Santa Margherita, Corte, San Siro, Nozarego and Portofino (From the register of landed properties in the archives of the Genoese government). The republic ruled Portofino 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 in Liguria, one at Portofino and the other at Ventimiglia: their administration was entrusted to four consuls (Summary of the Genoese history). This system of government only lasted for fourteen years, then Giovanni Antonio Fiesco, who was at war with the republic, occupied Portofino but after a short time, he surrendered it to the Genoese.

Scene: The delightful bay of Portofino 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, Portofino is still a place known for international tourism and the jet-set lifestyle.

The fishing village is located in a small area – 2 kmq – making it rigorously pedestrian. It is often called the most beautiful «Piazzetta» in the world. 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 this fishing village as their home- included among them are Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci, Emilio Pucci and many more. You can find these boutiques and the Portofino 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 italian gem 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. 

Today: After the storm of November 2017, the hamlet is reachable only by ferry. So we suggest to park in Santa Margherita and then to use the ferry to arrive at 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, 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 in Portofino 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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Storia: Negli anni 60’ e 70’, star come Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra e Brigitte Bardot frequentavano Portofino per appassionanti incontri mondani pieni di suggestione. I giornali di quell’epoca che si occupavano di mondanità, facevano a gara per raccontare nel mondo queste storie piene di fascino e di mistero che hanno reso celebre la Riviera Italiana come simbolo della “Dolce Vita”.

Oggi è ancora un luogo d’incontro del jet-set e turismo internazionale.

Il piccolo borgo si distende in appena 2 Km. di superficie vietata alle auto. E’ da sempre soprannominata la “Piazzetta più bella del mondo”. Questo salotto a cielo aperto la rende unica e piena di magie. In pochi passi è possibile vedere le tante vetrine degli Atelier più famosi al mondo, passeggiare vicino a formidabili Yacht ancorati alla marina - che offre possibilità di ancoraggio a vascelli da 8 sino a 40 metri - scorgere pescatori riassettare le loro reti ed assistere a indimenticabili tramonti nella baia, pieni di tutte le tonalità dei colori pastello tra le sfumature d'azzurro, di lieve viola e verde smeraldo. E' un luogo incredibile dove si fa pace con sei stessi, dove c'è amore, passione, tenerezze. Gli Ospiti passeggiano mano nella mano, lasciandosi pervadere da una profonda magia che ci ha reso speciali ed irripetibili.

Scenario: Quando si arriva e si scende da Via Roma, tutti i pensieri svaniscono in una sintonia totale che si impossessa dell'anima e la rende piena di forti emozioni. C'è paesaggio, c'è mare, ci sono colline, pini a strapiombo, sembra di vivere in un film d'amore che non vuole mai finire. Il nostro corpo all'interno reagisce a tante emozioni e i brividi ci avvertono che stiamo vivendo qualcosa di unico. Sono queste forti sensazioni che hanno reso Portofino, una delle località più amate e conosciute al mondo. Portofino offre anche diversi luoghi da visitare. Consigliamo per esempio la passeggiata tramite la pedonale che parte dalla Piazzetta sulla destra sino al Castello Brown, un’antica costruzione del 1870 dimora del console inglese Sir Montague Yeats Brown, che offre una vista panoramica su tutta la baia e il Golfo del Tigullio. Davvero spettacolare. Poco prima invece, la Chiesa di San Giorgio, che permette di vedere tutto il Golfo Paradiso sino a Genova. Proseguendo, attraverso una rigogliosa vegetazione, si arriva al Faro. Ci si trova immersi in un ambiente che ha sapore antico, di fronte al Mar Ligure con i suoi Delfini, Capodogli, Stelle Marine e moltissime specie protette in questa particolare Area del Mediterraneo. Nell’APP consigliamo diversi sentieri - dotarsi di bevande al seguito e scarpe adatte - che si distendono nel Monte di Portofino in direzione verso Genova sino alla baia di San Fruttuoso.

Da non perdere per quanto bella e per la presenza a 18 metri di profondità nelle acque, del Cristo degli Abissi. Invece, in direzione verso Santa Margherita Ligure, proseguire sino all’arrivo nella baia di Paraggi, una piccola frazione famosa per il particolare colore verde smeraldo delle proprie acque che la contraddistingue in tutto il mondo. Ci sono sentieri che attraversano il Monte di Portofino, alcune spiagge libere e una fantastica passeggiata a picco sul mare sino al Covo di Nord Est. Fatela al tramonto. Infine, non bisogna dimenticare una delle feste più romantiche, il Falò di San Giorgio in Piazzetta, la festa patronale per eccellenza di Portofino che si ripete da sempre, ogni 23 di Aprile. Una serata molto a cuore agli innamorati di Portofino dove viene acceso un enorme fuoco con musica e specialità marinare. I colori, le suggestioni, i toni dei carboni accesi, regalano emozioni che vanno dritte al cuore.Continua a leggere...

I Delfini di Portofino 🐬

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Portofino Travel Guide