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Portofino and the Riviera

Portofino and the Riviera

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Portofino and the Riviera

126 pagine
47 minuti
Feb 10, 2015


"A little village stretching like an arch of the moon around a quiet basin. Never have I felt the way I did when I walked into that green indefiniteness, with such a sense of peace and fulfillment”.
From Vie Errante by Guy de Maupassant
It was Pliny who first described this stunning natural area and named it ‘Portus Delphini’. This over time, was corrupted to Portofino.
Portofino is a typical fisherman village of the Ligurian Riviera which has become one of the most renowned tourist spots in all of Italy, best known in all the world for its tall colored houses situated in a semicircular formation around the small port and piazza.
Portofino and the Tigullio Gulf are symbols representing Italy throughout the world. The coast is a sequence of fashionable resorts with their marinas, pastel-colored houses, first-rate sports facilities, and the seductive atmosphere of the Dolce Vita.
But perhaps the most striking thing for the traveler is the beauty of the seascapes, with some of the most celebrated views in Italy, suspended between the intense blue of the sea and the green mountains.
The area of Portofino boasts an exceptional natural heritage that includes traces of rural and nautical civilizations, splendid religious architecture, and clusters of rural houses surrounded by tiny orchards and sections of land planted with grapevines and olive trees.
This is a guide to a visit to Portofino and the towns of nearby Riviera del Levante, from Sestri Levante to Genoa, including Sestri Levante, Santa Margherita Ligure, Camogli, San Fruttuoso and the villages of the Cinque Terre.
There are extensive descriptions and photos of the attractions.
It contains many reviews for the best-recommended restaurants that are at the location described.

Feb 10, 2015

Informazioni sull'autore

Enrico Massetti was born in Milano. Now he lives in Washington DC, USA, but he regularly visit his hometown, and enjoys going around all the places near his home town that can be reached by public transportation.Enrico can be reached at

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Portofino and the Riviera - Enrico Massetti

Portofino and the Riviera

Enrico Massetti

Copyright Enrico Massetti 2015

Published by Enrico Massetti

All Rights Reserved

edition 2020

The Riviera di Levante.

Riviera di Levante

This guide covers the Riviera di Levante, from the La Spezia Gulf to Genoa, including the Cinque Terre, Portofino, Camogli, and the other localities in between.

The Cinque Terre

Vernazza - Luca Aless CC BY-SA 4.0

With a short train ride from La Spezia, you access the Cinque Terre with their natural park.


Over the centuries, through constant collective work, man has managed to create this landscape, the only one of its kind in the world, safely kept inside a treasure chest between Punta Mesco and Punta Manara.

A little corner of Liguria where generations have worked to create this monument in landscape architecture represented by the steep terraces sloping down to the sea.

Held up by over 7000 km of dry stone walling, cleverly built without any cement, cultivated as vineyards that reach down to almost touching the lapping sea waves. 

The Cinque Terre, recognized by the Unesco Mankind's World Heritage, is today a National Park and Protected Marine Area to protect this great cultural heritage.

The rocky sea of the Cinque Terre

The inhabitants of these places had agricultural origins and lived on the hills. They came down to the coast once the Saracens had finished invading when the sea became safe and populated the villages at the rivers’ mouths along the shore.

The first historical documents on the Cinque Terre date back to the 11th-century. Monterosso and Vernazza sprang up first, while the other villages grew later, under the military and political supremacy of the Republic of Genoa. In the 16th century, the inhabitants reinforced the old forts and built new defense towers to oppose the Turks’ attacks. From the year 1600, the Cinque Terre experienced a decline which reversed only in the 19th century, thanks to the construction of the Military Arsenal of La Spezia and the building of the railway line between Genoa and La Spezia. The railway allowed the inhabitants to escape their isolation and brought about the abandonment of the traditional activities. As a consequence, there was an increase in poverty, which pushed many to emigrate abroad. It lasted up to the 1970s when the development of tourism brought back wealth. 

The variation of house colors is because while fishers were doing their jobs just offshore, they wanted to be able to see their house quickly. This way, they could make sure their wives were still home doing the wifely duties. Most of the families in the five villages made money by catching the fish and selling them in the small port villages. Fish was also their primary source of food.

Cinque Terre landscape is harsh and wild, and even the coast reflects this nature. High cliffs are reaching down into the cobalt blue depths of the sea. There are little shingle beaches hidden at Riomaggiore and Vernazza or tiny ports like at Manarolafor pulling up the boats when the sea is rough. Here, in summer, sunbathers mix with fishers.

Between Vernazza and Corniglia, there is the romantic beach of Guvano, to reach on foot. A more extensive sandy beach, with facilities, can be found only at Monterosso al Mare.

The five villages in the Cinque Terre - Riomaggiore

Riomaggiore - Klaus with K CC BY-SA 3.0

In medieval times, the name terra (land) meant village. From this origin comes the name Cinque Terre (five towns). Coming from the east - from La Spezia, the first village is Riomaggiore.

Riomaggiore, dating from the early 13th century, is known for its historic character and its wine, produced by its vineyards. Riomaggiore has a small beach and a pier framed by tower houses and one or two roads where people go and hang out, but you can find most of the life at night at the Bar Centrale.

Riomaggiore is the most southern village of the five Cinque Terre.

There is a small and tiny rocky beach that is clean and peaceful. It has a shower in the summer and another one closer to town by the boat landing.

Kayaks and Watersports

There is a diving center in Riomaggiore with scuba, snorkeling, and kayaks. Its office is down the stairs and under the tracks on

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