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Comune di Portofino
Portofino (2013)
Portofino (2013)
Portofino is located in Italy
Location of Portofino in Italy
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Country Italy
Region Liguria
Province / Metropolitan city Genoa (GE)
 • Mayor Giorgio Devoto
 • Total 2.6 km2 (1.0 sq mi)
Elevation 4 m (13 ft)
Population (31 December 2009)[1]
 • Total 493
 • Density 190/km2 (490/sq mi)
Demonym(s) 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
Website Official website

Portofino (Italian pronunciation: [ˌpɔrtoˈfiːno]; Ligurian: Portofin) is an Italian fishing village and vacation resort famous for its picturesque harbour and historical association with celebrity and artistic visitors.[2][3] It is a comune located in the province of Genoa on the Italian Riviera. The town is clustered around its small harbour, and is known for the colourfully painted buildings that line the shore.[4]


According to Pliny the Elder, Portofino was founded by the Romans and named Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphin, because of the large number of dolphins that inhabited the Tigullian Gulf.

The village is mentioned in a diploma from 986 by Adelaide of Italy, which assigned it to the nearby Abbey of San Fruttoso di Capodimonte. In 1171, together with the neighbouring Santa Margherita Ligure, it was included in Rapallo's commune jurisdiction. After 1229 it was part of the Republic of Genoa. The town's natural harbour supported a fleet of fishing boats, but was somewhat too cramped to provide more than a temporary safe haven for the growing merchant marine of the Republic of Genoa.

In 1409 Portofino was sold to the Republic of Florence by Charles VI of France, but when the latter was ousted from Genoa the Florentine gave it back. In the 15th century it was a fief of families such as the Fieschi, Spinola, Adorno and Doria.

In 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and, from 1861, of the unified Kingdom of Italy.

In the late 19th century, first British, then other Northern European aristocratic tourists began to visit Portofino, which they reached by horse and cart from Santa Margherita Ligure. Aubrey Herbert and Elizabeth von Arnim were amongst the more famous English people to make the area fashionable.[5] Eventually more expatriates built expensive vacation houses, and by 1950 tourism had supplanted fishing as the town's chief industry, and the waterfront was a continuous ring of restaurants and cafés.

Main sights

  • Statue of Christ of the Abyss, put underwater on 29 August 1954 in the small bay at a depth of 17 metres (56 ft). This statue was placed to protect fishermen and scuba divers and in memory of Dario Gonzatti. Sculpted by Guido Galletti, it represents a benedictory Christ who is looking up towards the sky with open arms as a sign of peace.
  • Castello Brown (16th century).
  • Church of St. Martin (Divo Martino, 12th century).
  • Church of St. George, housing some saints' relics.
  • Oratory of Santa Maria Assunta, in Gothic style.
Panoramic view over Portofino, Italy.


Portofino became famous in the 1950s with the song "Love In Portofino" which was written by Leo Chiosso and composed by Fred Buscaglione, and released on 12 May 1958. Fred Buscaglione was also the first singer to perform it.[6]

Legendary actor Sir Rex Harrison owned a villa in Portofino which he named San Genesio after the Roman Catholic patron saint of actors.

Portofino has inspired a re-creation of the sea side town around the harbour at Tokyo DisneySea in Chiba, Japan.

There is a full scale replication, in authentic detail, of the Portofino Bay at Universal Orlando Resort in Orlando, USA, which opened in September 1999.

Portofino is often thought to be the inspiration for Sir Clough Williams Ellis' Italianate village named Portmeirion, built between 1925 and 1975, in Wales, UK. However, this was repeatedly denied by the architect. He stated only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. He did, however, draw from a love of the Italian village stating, "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site."[7]

Portofino was also featured in the television series Top Gear (Episode 5, Series 12). Richard Hammond, in a Ferrari Daytona raced James May in a carbon fibre powerboat from Portofino to St Tropez.

Andrea Bocelli recorded a concert in Portofino in 2013, which was released on DVD.

Portofino is the eponym of Frank Schaeffer's Portofino: A Novel (1992). It was the first of Schaeffer's Calvin Becker Trilogy.[8]

Portofino is one of the shooting locations of the 1995 Antonioni / Wenders film, Beyond the Clouds.[9]

Canadian musicians Chad Kroeger and Avril Lavigne honeymooned in Portofino in July 2013.[10]

Kylie Minogue several times rested in Portofino, in 2011, 2013 and 2015.[11][12]

Personalities linked with Portofino

Twin towns

See also


  1. All demographics and other statistics: Italian statistical institute Istat.
  2. Italy. "Italy: Portofino guide". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-01-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Ross, Rory (2007-09-01). "Portofino: a port town that has evaded the uglier side of tourism - Europe - Travel". The Independent. Retrieved 2013-01-11.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Lonely Planet, Portofino Guide, accessdate=2015-03-24.
  5. De Vere White, Terrence in introduction to 'The Enchanted April', Virago: 1991, ISBN 9780860685173
  6. Love in Portofino - SHS Second Hand Songs
  7. Headley, Gwyn and Meulenkamp, Wim. Follies: a National Trust Guide Cape, 1986. p.156
  8. Schaeffer, Frank. Portofino: A novel. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-7867-1716-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Beyond the Clouds (1995) Filming Locations". IMDB. Retrieved 2013-12-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Watkins, Jade (2013-07-08). "The love boat! Newlywed couple Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger are the picture of marital bliss as they enjoy their honeymoon in Portofino". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 2013-12-14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Lady in lace: Kylie Minogue shows off her style as she strolls around Portofino in LBD and sheer blouse - DailyMail, 2013
  12. She's Spinning Around! Kylie Minogue has a Marilyn Monroe moment as she dances in a white sundress on board Portofino yacht - DailyMail, 2015
  13. Hofmann, Paul (1994-06-19). "Portofino, For the Rich And Less So". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-02-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links