Historical Guests

Portofino, a World apart
February 2009

Henry Alford in Portofino.

Henry Alford, the Anglican cleric who with great attention to detail described in pen and pencil the coast from Cannes to Genoa, was also in Portofino Italy in 1868 where his co-national Montagu Brown, English Consul in Genoa, was his host on the peninsula of Portofino. From therethe two went by foot on an excursion on the mountain to enjoy the wonderful panoramic view. Here they could feel part of an uncontaminated nature so different than western England and inebriate themselves on the lush scents of mediterranean vegetation. They had left in the morning when it was still cool. Alford, contrary to his friend Montagu who was used to the area, had worn a tweed raincoat which he immediately took off after the first climb.

They walked a long time, chatting as they went. Alford held his cape under his arm.Finally they arrived at a little hill on a steep vertical cliff overlooking the sea and there they stopped. The marvellous view limpid to the horizon sparked the imagination. Alford and Montagu remained a long time sitting on a rock almost enchanted. They then left and from one little valley to the next they made in one day a long tour of the mountain. After having passed the village of San Lorenzo della Costa, they reached Ruta. It was already evening and Alford realized that he had left his raincoat somewhere along the road. “Don’t worry” Montagu told him “the people here are honest. The raincoat will be delivered to the authorities and sent to England” (1).

As he had predicted, the raincoat was found by a farmer, was delivered to the parish of Nozarego, and don Bernardo Caffarena mentioned it in church. Thus Mr. Brown shipped if to Alford in Canterbury in England. “How honestthese Italians are” commented the author of “The Riviera, pen and pencil sketches from Cannes to Genoa” and still today Portofinians and Santa Margheritans uphold this tradition.

(1)This anecdote is taken from “Lettere dalla Liguria” by Giuseppe Mercenaro

Henry Alford

Portofino, a World apart.