History & Legends

Portofino, a World apart
February 2009

Portofino until the Kingdom of Italy


Portofino and Santa Margherita Ligure until the formation of the Kingdom of Italy

From here on the history of Santa Margherita Ligure(see photo below)and Portofinorevolves around the story of the families and their relationship with the parishes. There were always animosities and parochialism was never stronger than in this part of Liguria. Between Portofino and Nozarego, Santa Margherita Ligure, San Giacomo and San Siro, and Rapallo there was tremendous competition with regard to the treasures that their respective churches possessed and the magnificence of the processions that were sponsored: in Santa Margherita the paintings of Bernardo Castello and the De Ferraris, in Nozarego the paintings of Cambiaso and the Crucifix of Maragliano, in San Giacomo the frescoes of Nicolò Barabino. etc.

There was even a series of arguments over a procession to be held on territory whose boundaries were in dispute for decades. Symptomatic of this rivalry is the following episode of a certain Giacomo Costa who, after having long contested the rights of Rapallo over San Michele of Pagana, was shot in the seat of his pants with a shotgun while crossing the street. Santa Margherita disputed its primacy with San Giacomo of Corte over a long period of time. Given its central position and with the advantage of having a long beach on which boats could be pulled up on dry palates, Santa Margherita eventually overcame Corte.


However, San Giacomo would succeed in obtaining its own administrative individuality in the period of the Ligurian Republic (1797 – 1806) and in the succeeding Napoleonic era up until 1812 when Napoleon would unite the two municipalities of Santa Margherita and San Giacomo into the city of Port Napoleon. In Santa Margherita Ligure near St. Bernard’s oratory on the road to St. Siro the french built a fort, now completely hidden. San Siro, an agricultural parish, was more populated than Santa Margherita but felt itself exploited in a certain sense by the smaller center which had however greater logistic, and therefore political, importance.

With the Congress of Vienna, Liguria became a Duchy in the Kingdom of Sardegna. Santa Margherita, with San Giacomo and San Siro became the community of Santa Margherita Ligure to which manty people added “of Rapallo”. Portofino, notwithstanding the aims of Santa Margherita Ligure, remained an autonomous community.

Portofino, a World apart.