Itinerary: Portofino, Regional Natural Park of Portofino, Santa Margherita Ligure,
Portofino, a small gem in Liguria and Regional Natural Park
The square-shaped headland where Portofino is located juts into the Ligurian Sea and boasts a 13-kilometer long coastline. It starts from Camogli (pic n°2) and ends in Santa Margherita Ligure (pic n°6), and its highest point is Mount of Portofino, 610 meters above sea level. This area is part of Riviera di Levante, one of the two coastlines (the other one is Riviera di Ponente from Genoa to the French border) which the Ligurian coast is divided into.
The area that stretches behind Portofino and covers almost half of the headland is a protected area established in 1935 and named The Regional Natural Park of Portofino. It is accessible via the many trails whose total length is over 60 kilometers.
Let's start visiting Portofino (pic n°1), the main town of the whole park. This tiny picturesque village with its famous "piazzetta" (small square) and multi-colored houses built right on the seashore is considered to be one of the eighth wonders of the world. Originally it was a small fishing port founded by the Romans with the Latin name of "Portus Delphini" (port of dolphins). Today, Portofino is an elegant seaside destination with its small marina, where the Italian and international jet set love to spend some time on their luxury yachts, and many excellent restaurants and cafes.
Although it can be a quite expensive destination, Portofino is a must-see location, a beautiful gem that you should not miss when in Italy. It offers visitors unforgettable landscapes, spectacular and scenic views over the whole Gulf of Tigullio. You can also visit some beautiful ancient churches, such as the Romanic-Lombard style Church of San Martino that dates back to the 12th century but rebuilt in the 19th century.
From Portofino you can take a path (pic n°5) choosing from a wide array, varying in terms of length and levels of difficulties. Each of these trails will lead you into different natural environments, and many of them to Portofino Vetta, the highest peak of Monte di Portofino. Here, we would like to suggest you two hiking trails (see also the map below):
1 - The first is a short one and runs just on the hills above Portofino reaching the lighthouse at the very end of the small peninsula. Hiking this trail, you can also visit Church of San Giorgio from the twelfth century, built probably on the ruins of a chapel dating back to the Longobard era between the 2nd and 4th century, where the relics of St. George, the saint patron of Portofino is preserved. Nearby you can also visit Castello di San Giorgio or Castel Brown the wonderful fortified castle surrounded by a beautiful garden.
2 - The second trail is between Portofino and Abbey of San Fruttuoso. This is a particularly beautiful scenic trail running along the coast offering stunning views. The Abbey of San Fruttuoso di Capodimonte was originally built in the tenth century by Greek monks and has been rebuilt several times. The famous statue of Christ of the Abyss placed on the seabed in 1954 and restored in the 90's is located in the bay of the Abbey.
Anyway, whatever trail you will choose, walking along them, you will be surrounded by silence, scents of nature and colors that this beautiful and peaceful park features. One simply can not get enough of it as it offers so many beauties such as the cool and shady woods on the southern side, the steep and rugged coast, the lush Mediterranean vegetation, olive trees, chestnut trees, hazelnut trees, pines, and holm oaks.
If you are a birdwatcher, the park is perfect for you, as you will have the chance to admire many different species of local birds, such as robins, chaffinches, great tits, blackbirds, jays, and many others. The Natural Park of Portofino is also home to many reptiles, such as various species of salamanders, frogs, and geckos, as well as mammals (wild boars, foxes, badgers, and hedgehogs and others) that will make happy animal lovers.