Portofino (Italian pronunciation: [ˌpɔrtoˈfiːno]; Ligurian: Portofin [ˌpɔɾtuˈfiŋ]) is a comune located in the Metropolitan City 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. Since the late 19th century, Portofino has attracted tourism of the European aristocracy and it is now a resort for the world’s jet set.
The village is mentioned in a diploma from 986 by Adelaide of Italy, which assigned it to the nearby Abbey of San Fruttuoso 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, when Charles VI of France was Doge of Genoa, he sold Portofino to the Republic of Florence. When Charles was ousted from Genoa, the Florentines gave it back. In the 15th century it was a fief of families such as the Fieschi, Spinola, Adorno, and Doria.
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 among the more famous English people to make the area fashionable. Eventually, more expatriates built expensive holiday houses, and by 1950, tourism had replaced fishing as the town’s chief industry, and the waterfront was a continuous ring of restaurants and cafés.
- Statue of Christ of the Abyss, placed underwater on 29 August 1954 in the inlet at a depth of 17 metres (56 ft). This statue was placed to protect fishermen and scuba divers and in memory of Dario Gonzatti, the first Italian to use SCUBA gear, who died in 1947. Sculpted by Guido Galletti, it represents Christ in the act of blessing while looking towards the sky with open arms in 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.
Restriction on photography
In 2023, the municipality introduced zones where tourists are forbidden to linger to take photographs, which was causing congestion. Fines of up to €275 could be imposed on those infringing the regulations.
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