Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 12, 2022

Perfect Portofino

Portofino was once a sleepy fishing village on the Ligurian coast south of Genoa. The bay is mentioned  by Pliny the Elder (AD 23 – AD 79) when he called it the Port of the Dolphin. (Portus Delphini) It has had a rich and colourful history.

The gorgeous little harbour with its pretty houses attracted European aristocracy in the late 19th and early 20th century. Wealthy families built their summer homes there, some of which have since been transformed into hotels.

Visitors would arrive by horse and cart from Santa Margherita Ligure. One of those visitors was Elizabeth von Arnim who arrived in Portofino and fell in love with it. She wrote a novel, The Enchanted April, about her experience in 1922.

It was made into a movie in 1991, starring Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson and Polly Walker. It was filmed in Castello Brown where the author stayed. Enchanted April is one of my favourite movies about Italy and I watch it regularly. The book is excellent as well. It is about 4 women who leave the dreary London rain to spend spring in Italy and how their lives are transformed.

The 1950s saw a boom in Portofino’s popularity. The yachts of the super wealthy began to arrive in the harbour and still do today.  It now welcomes all kinds of visitors from all over the world.

It is only a 2 hour drive to Portofino from our apartment and each time I go there I wonder why I don’t visit more often. The harbour is spectacular and the piazzetta surrounding it is one of the prettiest in Italy. The town has lots of restaurants, cafes and pretty shops, making a visit fun, interesting and delicious.

We were there at the end of the season, found a car park easily and walked down to the piazzetta.

A walk on the path up the hill offers beautiful views of the harbour and you can do some shopping along the way.



The church of St Giorgio sits at the top of the path.

Views from the other side are lovely too.

I spotted excellent green doors and some steep steps up to accommodation.

There is a range of shopping from high end to more affordable.



There is a very stylish bank built into the side of the hill.

There are lots of restaurants to choose from.

We chose one beside the path where I had an excellent pasta dish typical of the area. It is simple and delicious, pasta, potatoes, beans and pesto.

There is not a lot of parking in Portofino and the road there is very narrow. If you go in high season it would be a good idea to park in nearby Santa Margherita Ligure and catch a bus or boat. Arriving by boat is wonderful. The whole coastline is sublime.




  1. Thanks for the memories. Loved docking there and exploring the area with a fabulous bus ride to Santa Marghareta. And that movie was one of the best. I envy you only 2 hours away. 🙂

    • The first time I saw the movie was at the cinema. I will never forget when the window is open to reveal the view. I love all the characters as well.

      • Wow looks amazing. I had lunch at Saint Margarita and only a glance of Portofino .. Look at that pasta 😋

      • Portofino is gorgeous, next time. The pasta was excellent.

  2. One of the prettiest villages. We really enjoyed our time there and would love to visit again. Thanks for showing us around again.

    • Portofino is beautiful, such a gorgeous little harbour.

  3. Many lovely memories. Each time we travelled to the mill by car, we used to stop at Portofino for lunch. And each time it looked more beautiful. Thanks for sharing those lovely photos.

    • I feel lucky to be able to go there regularly. All of the towns along that coast are divine.

      • Loved all your photos of Portofino. We were staying in Santa Margherita Ligure & although had a car decided to take bus (wise decision). We walked up hill & enjoyed view & afternoon tea in Hotel Splendido, will never forget it! Your photos of the blue skies & boats in the harbour just wonderful.

      • Driving to Portofino is really only possible out of season. The bus or boat are good options. I like the sound of coffee at the hotel.

  4. Have visited a four times over the decades and loved Portofino on each occasion. Need to go back especially when I see your wonderful photos from this last trip.

    • I want to stay a night or 2. I have only done day trips. I think it would look amazing at night.

  5. What a beautiful day out you had! At only 2 hours away I think I would try and visit more as well…but then we often tend to overlook what is so close to us. Love those coloured buildings and that building on the hill looks so picturesque (is that the church?)

    • The church of St Giorgio is the yellow building. There are a few others in the town. Next time I will walk up to Castello Brown.

  6. Another delightful post; in a beautiful pace. I watched Enchanted April last night, enjoyed it…thought of Liam Neeson. Also a Public Television series, Hotel Portofino, which was also good. Have you read Frances Mayes, Women of Sunlight? It is not Portofino – but female solidarity, a great read. Wonderful to see the warmth and beauty of Italy; as winter months approach…please keep us engaged with your wonderful blog/photos.

    • I watched Hotel Portofino. Most of that was filmed in other places, with just a few scenes in Portofino. I did recognise some of them.
      I haven’t read Frances Mayes book, but did enjoy Under the Tuscan Sun many years ago. I thought the movie of that book was a bit silly. I have been to Cortona a few times.

      • I errored referencing Liam Neeson, thinking MIranda Richardson had been his wife. However, it was Natasha Richardson, no relation, who passed away from a skiing accident in Canada. In 2020 he and his son made a movie, Made in Italy, that closely mirrors their personal story. Also slipped up on the title of Frances Mayes book ‘Women IN Sunlight’. It is about four women whose families are steering them toward retirement ‘facilities’. They don’t want ‘any of
        THAT’; taking a house in Italy instead. I enjoyed it!

  7. I stayed 5 nights in Sorrento and took water taxi to Positano in August 2018 and thought that was beautiful but this looks like it might be a quieter option?

    • I was there in late October on a Monday. It would be every bit as busy in August as Sorrento. Also, Sorrento is much bigger. They are both gorgeous but I would not go anywhere either of them in summer.

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