Portofino was discovered by the Romans and named Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphin, due to the myriads of dolphins that inhabited the Tigullian Gulf as said by Pliny the Elder, the roman author.

The village was initially a part of the nearby Abbey of San Fruttoso di Capodimonte. In 1171, along with the neighboring Santa Margherita Ligure, it was incorporated in Rapallo’s commune jurisdiction. After 1229 it was accepted as a part of the Republic of Genoa. The town's natural harbor is equipped with a fleet of fishing boats, but was somewhat too restricted to offer a permanent safe haven for the developing merchant marine of the Republic of Genoa.

In 1409 Portofino came in the custody of the Republic of Florence by Charles VI of France, but when the latter was supplanted from Genoa the Florentine gave it back. In the 15th century it was a land of families including Spinola, Doria, Fieschi, Adorno.

In 1815 it came in the province of Kingdom of Sardinia and from 1861, of the unified Kingdom of Italy.

In the late 19th century, initially British, then other Northern European lordly tourists began to visit Portofino, which they visited by horse and cart from Santa Margherita Ligure. Finally more exiles built expensive vacation houses, and by 1950 tourism had established fishing as the town's chief industry, and the waterfront was a prime ring of restaurants and cafés.


Portofino Information

Portofino Coordinates: 44°18′14″N 9°12′28″E
Country Italy
Region Liguria
Province Genoa (GE)
Portofino Government
 - Mayor Giorgio Devoto
Portofino Area
 - Total 2.6 km2 (1 sq mi)
Elevation 4 m (13 ft)
Portofino Population (31 December 2009)
 - Total 493
 - Density 189.6/km2 (491.1/sq mi)
Demonym Portofinesi
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal Code 16034
Dialing Code 0185
Patron Saint St. George
Saint Day First Sunday in April

Portofino Overview

Portofino is a D-shaped, picturesque village situated at a sea side with pastel houses surrounding the shore of the harbor. Portofino is replete with cafes, shops, restaurants, and luxury hotels. Portofino's lucid green waters divulge a great aquatic life. A castle sits at the top of the hill overlooking the village. Being at the seashore, the weather is quite pleasant and clear which also offer the opportunities for diving, hiking, and boating.

Transportation to Portofino

Frequent ferries plies to Portofino from Rapallo, Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, and Camogli. You can go on a boat ride which starts from Genoa or you can go to riviera towns to the south. The train stations are Santa Margherita Ligure and Camogli. A bus plies for Portofino just at a stones through from the Santa Margherita station. Portofino is car-free still you can drive the narrow, windy road near to the village where a small parking lot is constructed. In summer, it's generally very crowded, and driving and parking is almost not that easy.

San Fruttuoso

On the other side of the peninsula, if started from Portofino by a 2-hour walk or by boat, is the Abbazia di San Fruttuoso. The convent, built in the 11th century, is situated among pine and olive trees. Under the water close to San Fruttuoso is a big bronze statue of Christ, Cristo degli Abissi, guardian of sailors and divers.

Castello Brown

Castello Brown is a museum sits on a hill high above the Portofino. You can approach the castle by a route near the Botanic Garden. The castle is open for tourists from 10am to 7pm during summer and 5pm in winter. The castle has a pleasant garden and offers great views of Portofino and the sea beneath. The medieval castle underwent a transformation in 1870 into the residence of Yeats Brown, British consul to Genoa. Inside the castle are pictures and furnishings of Browns along with photos of several popular tourists to Portofino.

Food of Portofino

As it is obvious, Portofino's restaurants serve seafood delicacies. Genovese specialties like the green minestrone can also be found. Most of the restaurants line up the harbor and displays a high cover charge.

Portofino Regional Park

There are a numerous good hiking trails both along the coast and on inland paths, many depicting spectacular views. The northern part of the park is packed with a variety of trees while in the southern part you will witness more wildflowers, grasslands, and bushes. Olive trees are planted in several places and close to the villages orchards and gardens are also seen.

Portofino Marine Protected Area

Most of the water from Santa Margherita up to Camogli is a protected area and it is prohibited to enter the water in certain places. There are 20 dive sites and diving can be enjoyed contacting local dive agencies. Swimming is permissible only in a few areas and boating is prohibited near some of the shoreline. Some parts of the coastline are very steep and rugged and steep.

Portofino Main Sights

  • Statue of Christ of the Abyss
  • Castello Brown (16th century).
  • Church of St. Martin (Divo Martino, 12th century).
  • Church of St. George
  • Oratory of Santa Maria Assunta

Twin Towns

  • Kinsale, Ireland
  • Palma de Mallorca, Spain
  • Nelson, UK

Portofino Hotels

Hotel Name Avg. Price / Night
Hotel Splendido by Orient-Express $573 - $1,980 (€405 - €1,400)
Domina Home Piccolo $184 - $1,761 (€130 - €1,245)
Hotel Splendido Mare NA
Eight Hotel Portofino $354 - $1,145 (€250 - €810)
Albergo Nazionale $212 - $354 (€150 - €250)
Hotel Eden $170 - $273 (€120 - €193)
Hotel Argentina NA
Grand Hotel Miramare, Santa Margherita Ligure $216 - $566 (€153 - €400)
Hotel Villa Anita, Santa Margherita Ligure NA
Hotel Minerva, Santa Margherita Ligure $156 - $311
Europa, Santa Margherita Ligure $96 - $156
Nuova Riviera, Santa Margherita Ligure $113 - $198
Hotel Mediterraneo, Santa Margherita Ligure NA
La Locanda di Colombo, Santa Margherita Ligure $166 - $240
Hotel Jolanda, Santa Margherita Ligure $140 - $263 (€99 - €186)
Hotel Tigullio et de Milan, Santa Margherita Ligure $85 - $195
Metropole, Santa Margherita Ligure $92 - $464 (€65 - €328)