Portofino - A Most Perfect Photogenic Treasure on the Med
20 July 2007

Portofino is perched on the northwest coast of Italy and is one of the most charming and photogenic seaside villages in the Mediterranean.

The towns on the Tigullio Gulf date back to pre-Roman times and until the 19th century, Portofino was an active fishing village, where the perfect shaped bay was a safe haven for trading ships. More recently, home to the exclusive Hotel Splendido, it has attracted the “beautiful people” of Europe for many decades, from actors Rex Harrison, Elizabeth Taylor, to Sophia Loren, plus great artists, politicians and entrepreneurs, making it famous all over the world. Now it attracts tourists plus the Italian jet set and the ultra rich who arrive on their super luxury yachts.  


The tone of the splendour of this town is set at its very entrance by crossing the highly polished brass drain grates then it’s the succession of top designer shops.


Next is the wide open cobbled town square, which is a symbol of Portofino, surrounded by brightly painted coloured houses and restaurants overlooking the marina. Further down the bay are moored the super yachts complete with helicopter pads and rich boy’s toys. But to balance the picture, there are many small and quaint colourful boats, coming and going or just moored near or beached on the boat ramp right next to the town square.



There are beautiful villas on the opposite hill set amongst the olives and statues in park like grounds overlooking the harbour. Of course there is the obligatory castle on the hill top plus a lighthouse on the point where a café was doing very well selling delicious Italian gelato to overheated tourists on this hot summer day.


                                                                                                    The Art of Nature 

There was an interesting exhibition at the castle of “nudes made from steel” by “Schiaffino” as well as an exhibition of many old framed black and white photographic prints of the rich and famous Hollywood and Italian film stars during their visits to Portofino in the middle of last century. I had to be coerced to part with the 4 euro entrance fee but it was money well spent!! There was one old photo of an early, lean looking paparazzi photographer carrying a huge flash light unit which probably weighed about 20 kilograms! How times have changed.


                Click on Photo to Enlarge

The view from Brown Castle looking down to the picturesque harbour and colourful houses is a memory that will not be easily forgotten. A super yacht slowly made its way out of the harbour past the lines of small fishing boats. Even the view from the toilet in the castle was magnificent, with its vista in the soft Mediterranean light across the bay and down the coast!


                                                                                                            Loo with a View!

Portofino, though obviously a place for the wealthy, also has an unpretentious charm, which is probably the result of the casual cafes in the square, the quant colourful houses that surround the harbour and the multitude of small boats moored in organised rows along the promenade. 



Of course, the most popular tourist destination in this area is situated just an hour away down the coast; The Cinque Terre, which is a group of five enchanting medieval fishing villages, nestled into the coastline. The Cinque Terra will be the subject of another travel blog sometime in the future.



Copyright 2007: Bruce Burgess Photography