Most places in Italy transport you back in time to Ancient Rome or the Renaissance. Portofino will make you feel as if you are part of the glamorous 1960s, when the fishing village became a popular vacation spot for celebrities like Rex Harrison, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and many more.
A walking tour is the best way to soak up the atmosphere of this picture-perfect village.
I meet guests at Portofino floating pier (or in the lobby of the hotel), from here we walk along the harbor front, famously lined with pastel-colored houses reflected in the water. We pass along the Museo del Parco, which is a garden with a wide collection of contemporary statues and artworks, created by the best international artists. Then we arrive in the famous Piazzetta, this is the main square where people go to see and be seen, surrounded by elegant restaurants, traditional eateries and small bars.
We walk through the narrow alleyways lined with fashionable boutiques and shops where the locals purchase fresh food everyday. We also stop at the local bakery to taste a slice of focaccia, a Ligurian bread with extra virgin olive oil, and you can practice speaking Italian with Mariangela, the owner.
Then we make our way up to the Church of St. George, which was built on the hill overlooking the sea to preserve the relics of the Saint George the dragon-slayer, founded by some Portofinesi during the First Crusade almost one thousand years ago and much venerated by the locals. From there, following the path beyond the church, we pass by some of the most exclusive villas like Dolce and Gabbana's properties and then we reach Castello Brown, a 15th century fortress high up on a hill. It was built to protect the town from pirates and it was the inspiration for the 1992 movie, “Enchanted April.”
Then, if you wish, we can continue for a twenty-minute walk along a path, dotted with towering trees and greenery, towards the lighthouse. The view of the promontory, the gulf and the coastal villages is simply stunning, one of the best selfie spots in Portofino.
Then we walk down the hillside through the castle's garden and back to the waterfront.
Duration: approximately 3 hours
Departure and return: Portofino floating pier (or any hotel in Portofino).
Important Notes: this tour involves uphill walking, maximun 2 miles over cobblestone surfaces, with inclines and about 100 steps to reach the lighthouse and extended periods of standing. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Conservative attire is required to enter religious sites (no exposed knees or shoulders).