The Santa Margherita to Portofino walk can only be described as enchanting. Elizabeth Von Arnim describes the setting of Portofino in her novel The Enchanted April as a the tranquil setting that brings together companions in hope and love. The beauty of this walk can also inspire the same emotions.
The ramble takes you up 200 m (650 ft) and is only 4.4 km (2.7 mi) long. However due to the number of stops on the way to admire the scenery we took over 1 ½ hours to complete the trip.
The Santa Margherita di Pagna is an ideal point from which to explore the Portofino Peninsula. The town itself bustles with tourists throughout the season and at weekends. There are plenty of places to eat, especially along the front. There are a couple excellent delis and some interesting shops.
While there, we found a small restaurant away from the main shopping area called L’Insolita Zuppa, which translates into The Unusual Soup. If you want to sample Italian food other than pizza and pasta I highly recommend it.
There are many routes that criss cross the Portofino Peninsula and the major paths are well and distinctively marked.
The route begins
If you are facing this Victorian edifice turn right and up the small road behind it. You’ll see a footpath sign directing you to Nozarego. The path climbs quite steeply and you’ll soon see your first wonderful view of the Mediterranean.
Well maintained route
You’ll only need a reasonable pair of trainers to walk this route. The paths are well maintained and easy to follow.
In addition to the clear paths you’ll find the way well signposted.
Finally, to make the route as clear as possible there are many frequent markers on the stone walls, trees or telegraph poles at frequent intervals.
You follow the single cross on the way up and the three dots on your descent.
The advantages of taking this walking route from Santa Marghertia to Portofino are the outstanding views that are glimpsed through the trees as you walk along the path.
It’s strange how the reflection seems to sweep in a zig zag across the sea.
The path looks directly down on the sea below. Someone sits out in the bay in their huge yacht. Should we look down on them?
From the highest point one can see for miles all along the Ligurian coastline.
The path descends
After you have taken in the outstanding views the path suddenly descends towards the beach.
The three spots leads you straight down and you emerge beside the Hotel Argentina at the little cove of Paraggi.
When we passed through this little hamlet of Paraggi there were still quite a few people enjoying the autumn sunshine. A great time to visit this little beach, still warm enough and not too crowded
The path crosses the road and follows the headland above the road. See the map.
The path into Portofino
An easy path continues above the road and sea below.
There are still beautiful sights to see.
Continue along the path which takes you around the headland of Niasca.
The board tells the story of how chestnut trees have found sanctuary in the micro-climate that exists in this headland.
When you turn the corner at the tip of the headland you see your first site of Portofino.
Money has been attracted to this little harbour for long time. An example is this victorian pile.
However it is not surprising that people have been attracted to this enchanting spot. Since 1950 tourism has been the most important ecom=nomic activity in Portofino.
Stars have been attracted to the port. They have included Rex Harrison, Rita Hayworth, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart, Ava Gardner, Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Robert De Niro, Liza Minnelli, Alain Delon, George Clooney, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Denzel Washington, Ringo Starr, Barbra Streisand, Rod Stewart. A large collection for such a small resort.
This small harbour is squeezed into the surrounding hills which come close down to the waters edge. All around the port are restaurants catering for the visitors.
High above sits Castello Brown, named after a 19th century British Consul who bought the dilapidated castle. The castle featured in a wonderful film version of The Enchanted April starring Miranda Richardson, Joan Plowright and Alfred Molina. Watch the film on YouTube, I loved it.
Return to Santa Margherita
You can, of course, walk back the way you came. However to complete the romantic day inspired by the beauty before you enjoy a slow return by boat on the ferry.
The views from the ferry are just as attractive as they are from the hills above.
If you enjoyed the Santa Margherita to Portofino stroll then you can find more great walks at Find a walk – Riviera.
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