Portofino: A Luxurious Escape
Sights and Activities
Divo Martino’s Church
Originally built in the tenth century, this church was located on a site overlooking a cluster of houses. The elegant medieval tradition lives again through its hanging arches, its central portal and the rose-window. In 986, Queen Adelaide donated the place where the church was built to the monks of San Fruttuoso. This granted jurisdiction over the area to the Abbot of San Fruttuoso, who held control over the township until 1171, when administrational responsibility was passed over to the civil authorities of Rapallo.
St. George’s Church
At the western end of the yacht harbor is a trail that has you walking uphill for quite a while. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and the trail is easy. During the Roman period, the sanctuary had a dual role: church and observation fortress. Indeed, the view from the top is spectacular, with the boats and yachts in the harbor and the hills covered in flowers, vines and trees. The church and its fortress are open daily.
The Brown Castle
Approximately 10 minutes further uphill from the St. George Sanctuary you arrive to the Brown Castle, originally built in the 1400's as a lookout over the northern Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Tigulli to protect the region. It is surrounded by a Mediterranean garden featuring a wealth of flowers, rose-gardens and pergolas. The architecture and artifacts are worth the price of admission, but the spectacular views are priceless. Further up the trail through pine forests with well-marked trails you will come to the faro, or lighthouse, with a view over the entire promontory and as far as Genoa.
The old Piazzetta
The famous “Piazzetta” surrounded by little houses, slopes down and ends in the water of the harbor. All around and under the pointed-arched porticos, along the quay and the pier, the boutiques, the shops, the American bars and the restaurants act as a frame.
Museo del Parco
This is an outdoor sculpture garden featuring works from many Italian artists. It's spectacular to see these sculptures while looking out over the yacht harbor and the sea as you stroll up the path.
A day at the beach
Having so much to do and see in the Italian Riviera can occasionally be overwhelming. For a chance to just relax and rest on a beach under the sun, why not visit the closest sandy beach in the area, in Santa Margherita, at the Bay of Paraggi, where you’ll enjoy the bay’s protected cove and beautiful crystal waters. You can reach Santa Margherita via a bus from the town square in Portofino or consider taking a boat to get a view of the spectacular coastline.
Although the tradition of fishing is now almost a thing of the past, the seafaring atmosphere has not been affected with the harbor full of magnificent yachts, luxurious cruisers and sailing boats. Because the waters surrounding Portofino have been designated an underwater national park, the reefs are clean and healthy and rare red coral grows under ideal conditions. Two wrecks are available as dive sites as well. Several companies offer both scuba and snorkeling trips, some in Portofino and some in nearby Santa Margherita Ligure.
In Portofino visitors can find every kind of shop, boutique, shoe store and jeweler; be sure to ask the Concierge at your hotel for an updated “Shopping Guide”. Most of the shops are opened seasonally from March until the end of October from 10.30am to 8.00pm. During July and August, stores stay open until 11.30pm.
Where to stay
In the vibrant heart of Portofino, on the celebrated Piazzetta by the harbor, you’ll find the intimate Splendido Mare with just 16 rooms and suites. Hotel Splendido, an Italian hospitality legend and one of Europe’s most exclusive hotels, is located amid verdant woodlands overlooking the Mediterranean and the bay of Portofino. The view from the hotel is absolutely breathtaking; you are surrounded by stunning gardens and can gaze down upon the charming little harbor. The hotel has just the right blend of beauty, style, comfort and service. Swim and sunbathe by the beautiful swimming pool, pamper yourself at the Spa or treat yourself to gourmet meals at La Terrazza Restaurant. If you look for unique experiences, enjoy a romantic sunset cruise with champagne on the hotel’s private boat or try the olive oil tasting classes on the terrace.
Plan to experience the wonder of Portofino on the Italian Riviera and redefine your idea of what a luxury destination is. With a style all its own, Portofino is an experience that you simply can’t find anywhere else!