There’s a heavenly slice of Italy in the northwestern region —just off the Ligurian Sea, a 3-hour drive from the French city of Nice—that the world’s rich and famous have identified as their perfect get-away. Yet Portofino, as the gorgeous Italian village is called, is not a well-kept secret. The whole region where it lies, known either as Liguaria or Italian Riviera, has long been a hot favorite with travelers. Some of her many attractions include cosmopolitan resorts, sandy beaches, impressive castles, breathtaking cliffs, rugged mountains, and quaint, slow-paced villages.
At the heart of this scenic panorama, is the idyllic fishing village of Portofino, which takes beauty, charm, and allure—to a whole new level. Yet Portofino is better described as an experience and not just a destination. And for all its haunting vistas, Portofino should be among the prettiest destinations in Italy.
Why Portofino Is So Famous With The Rich
According to the accounts of Pliny the Elder, the charming village we now call Portofino was founded by the Romans—and named Portus Delphini—or the port of dolphins. Anyone who wanted to look at dolphins, and they must have been on the first rung of the social ladder—would wend their way to the quiet, attractive village—shaped like a half-moon. Its association with wealthy men and nobles spans several centuries. The Bobbio Abbey of Saint Columbanus was among the first owners. However, like many European cities and towns, Portofino would change hands—just like the ocean waves that seem to give their waters to the next—in a cascading line of succession. At one time it would be in the possession of a nobleman who would then sell it to another, and another, and another.
By the late 19th century, Portofino had become a buzzword among the elites of Europe, including tycoons, presidents, celebrities, and captains of industry. In the 20th century, its fame had become more securely established. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, celebrated French author Guy de Maupassant, Italian radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi, and Hollywood celebs like Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna, and Denzel Washington—would be seen soaking in the sun atop luxurious yachts, holding fairytale weddings—or walking on the blissful beaches that dot its sandy shoreline. And today, it looks as if time has not stolen an atom from her jaw-dropping beauty. Instead, Portofino is ever more quaint—as if frozen in time. Perhaps even more celebrities continue to troop there in the search of a poetic, out-of-the-world experience. And it’s not just for the rich. At Portofino, both the rich man and the average one are irresistibly drawn to its insane beauty and laid-back ambiance.
What To See And Do At Portofino
Of course, Denzel Washington and Liz Taylor do not go to Portofino merely to walk on the beach or admire the breathtaking vistas—even if that would still be reason enough. There are many things to dazzle the eye; many interesting things to do. For those who get transfixed by the impressive sight of medieval castles and fortresses, Castello Brown, above the harbor of Portofino, is the place to visit. Encircled by magnificent villas all around, and located in one of the most secluded spots, Castello Brown is a famous venue for celebrity weddings. It’s here that Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker tied the knot, amid the quiet glitz and glamor of botanic gardens, lush terraces, and Gothic castle windows. The services at Castello Brown include civil unions, weddings, conventions and conferences, art exhibitions, catering, and private events.
- What Are The Fees Or Charges For Renting Castello Bastille? €1,000 on weekdays, €2,500 on Saturdays, and €2,000 on both Fridays and Sundays. (One euro is currently 1.06 USD, hence they’re more or less the same when translated.
The Church of San Giorgio, set high on a beautiful hill overlooking the town of Portofino, is a small but attractive church, and one of the popular go-to sanctuaries. Just 220 meters away is an active lighthouse known as Faro Di Portofino, which, even though looks ordinary, shares the same breathtaking scenery as the Church of San Giorgio. Walking from the Portofino Harbor to either the church or the lighthouse takes an average of 20 minutes. And for nature in its pristine best, Mount Portofino Natural Regional Park boasts one of the greatest varieties of plant species in the Mediterranean. About 50 miles of beautiful, winding trails are accessible for hikers. This is in addition to cultural and historical treasure troves such as the 800-year-old hermitage of Niasca. The northern parts are wooded with several species of solemn trees. On the other hand, the southern parts dance and dazzle with colorful wildflowers.
At the Portofino Marine Protected Area, the sparkling waters of the Ligurian Sea provide a trickling, refreshing amusement— as well as an iridescent window into the diverse marine life. Finally, on the other side of the peninsula is the 1,000-year-old San Fruttuoso Abbey, built among stately pines and olives. A submerged statue of Jesus Christ stands just off San Fruttuoso bay—and is usually a fascinating sight to behold.
There’s a reason the rich and wealthy regularly flock to Portofino in droves. It's a postcard version of a dream wonderland.