Historical Guests

Portofino, a World apart
February 2009

Gerhart Hauptmann in Portofino.

The great writer of German naturalism Gerhart Hauptmann came to spend the winter as the guest of his friends the Browns in the castle in Paraggi in 1912, when he won the Nobel Prize for Literaturefor his celebrated drama “The Weavers”. He had already divorced his first wife Marie Thienemann, daughter of a rich banker from Dresden, and was remarried to Margaret he Marschalk with whom he had already taken several trips to Italy. In that year the duke and duchess of Sassonia-Coburgo-Gotha were also on holiday in Santa Margherita Ligure. When he was staying in Santa Margherita, Gerhart Hauptmann would often go to the Caffè Colombo, in front of the little gardens where he would offer aperitifs to the Browns. He found it extremely pleasurable to relax with his friends in that place and enjoy the sun while it was so cold in Germany. He felt very comfortable in that caffe, certainly different from German caffes, but it was furnished all the same with all those comforts that the “belle èpoque” had even brought to this part of Italy so beloved by the Germans.

Gerhart Hauptmann always maintained ties to Portofino and Santa Margherita and to the bar Colombo where he returned several times from 1925 to 1940. The owner of the bar, Renzo Vinelli, who was still a young boy at the time, remembers well the figure of the writer and his second wife who was roughly the same age as his mother Anna. Gerhart’s wife was tall and slender, an aristocratic figure with ink black hair. She usually wore a white “tailleur”. She returned to Santa Margherita Ligure at the end of the 40’s after the death of her husband. Renzo Vinelli, no longer a boy, remembered her and when he saw her he said, “Madam, I saw you, beautiful and elegant with your black hair and white tailleur, you are still beautiful today with your white hair and black tailleur!!” He remembered ful sitting next to her and reminiscing of the days when she sat with her husband at the same table. Certainly, in front of the bar Colombo, where one could rent means of transport, there were no more carriages but automobiles and on the street the first motorcycles were speeding by.

Gerhart Hauptmann

Portofino,a World apart.