Portofino, Santa Margherita, Camogli & Genoa
Jewels of the Ligurian coast.
A NOTE ABOUT DRIVING TIMES
About 2 hrs total, with no traffic delays. In summer getting in and out of Portofino can be problematic, in which case we recommend taking the ferry from Santa Margherita or skipping Portofino altogether, in order to have more relaxed experience.
Portofino is known around the globe for the charm of its brightly coloured row houses and tidy harbour. Founded by the Romans as “Portus Delfini” after the numerous dolphins in the Tigullian Gulf, Portofino today is the playground of the rich and famous. It wasn’t til the late 19th century that wealthy European tourists began frequenting Portofino, but by the 1950’s tourism replaced fishing as the town’s principal industry. The area around the harbour is brimming with restaurants, cafés, and places to sit, enjoy the sun and take in the scene.
Santa Margherita Ligure
Although it became a renowned tourist resort after WWII, there are lots of interesting things to see in Santa Margherita. As with so many places in this part of Italy there are remnants of the measures taken to defend the coast against pirates from North Africa, such as the 16th century tower at the Abbey of Cervara (a designated national monument). The abbey also contains many beautiful and varied gardens, once tended by Benedictine monks. Also not to be missed is Villa Durazzo, a spectacular residence from the 17th century that demonstrates the splendour of its era with period furniture, beautiful statuary, frescoes and trompe-l’oeil, mosaic floors and sumptuous gardens.
This fishing village on the Italian Riviera gets its name from “case delle moglie” — houses of the wives — a testimony to the women who watched over the town while their husbands were at sea. In the Middle Ages Camogli was a considerable port known for its many tallships. For centuries the well-heeled from Milan and Turin have come to Camogli for the sunshine and pesto. Today the sunshine and pesto is still a draw for tourists, as are the colourful houses and abundance of festivals. Camogli is a favourite with clients.
Genoa is a city rich in art, music and architecture, with a great culinary culture and varied social history encompassing thousands of years. The fact that Christopher Columbus was a native of Genoa tells us much about Genoa’s connection with the sea. Even in ancient times Genoa’s fine harbour attracted inhabitants and facilitated commerce. The Greeks were there six centuries before Christ, and the Etruscans probably before that. In the Middle Ages Genoa possessed one of the largest and most powerful navies in the Mediterranean. The Republic was vast, stretching north to the Black Sea, south to Sardinia and west into the French Riviera.
The 16th century marks a particularly important era for the city, when great urban restructuring took place and Genoa became an important crossroads for royalty, diplomats and prominent ecclesiastical figures. Some of the architectural achievements of this period still form a significant part of the city’s flavour — for example, the Rolli palaces (now a UNESCO site), which were private mansions put at the disposal of the government to host prestigious persons on visits of state.
Our excursion will cover such impressive locations as Piazza de Ferrari (including the Palace of the Doges, Teatro Carlo Felice, and the Stock Exchange), the cathedral of San Lorenzo, and the synagogue. Literal highs and lows of the day will be climbing (with the vehicle) to be the neighbourhood of Castelletto for panoramic views of the city and returning to sea level to visit the historic mariners’ district at Boccadasse.
DURATION: 8-9 hrs
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