Santa Margherita proved to be an excellent location from which we could visit Portofino and Cinque Terre. We took a 15 minute boat ride to Portofino and a bus ride back but you can just as easily walk if you you're up for the 1 hour hike. Cinque Terre is 1 hour away by train and if you return by train to Santa Margherita from the Cinque Terre at sunset you will love the views!
Piazza Mazzini is the main city square and one of the most attractive city sights. It is where the Municipio (the City Hall) is situated, surrounded by fine palaces all painted in vivid colours, making the square very pitoresque. One part of the square is closed by the Oratorio della Madonna del Suffragio. The central part of the square is a small rounded park with the statue of Giuseppe Mazzini.
A tour to San Fruttuoso is also a must do if staying in the Italian Riverina. You can do this tour by foot or boat. The best way is by boat which leaves from Portofino, Camogi or Santa Margherita. By foot it takes approx 2.5hours one way and it's suited for experienced hikers.
San Fruttuoso is a medieval village surrounded by a lovely beach which is the home of the Benedictine Abbey a beautiful building built in the early 13th century. The walk from Portofino is steep and difficult but it offers hikers fantastic views of the coastline and sea. There are a few little fishing villages you can visit on the route San Niccolo, San Rocco and Puta Chiappa.
All information including a map can be located at any of the tourist information centres in Portofino, Camogi (closest) or Santa Margherita.
Boats run regularly from Camogli/ Portofino during the summer months. Its approx 30min ride one way.
Once in San Fruttuoso there are small seaside cafes and restaurants to relax at overlooking the glistening waters. The Abbey is opened at different times of the year. Check with the information center for details of opening times.
With Portofino's reputation as a playground for the very rich and famous, I thought I would be distracted by opulence in this seaside town. In spite of the gigantic yachts in the harbour, I found Portofino to be a quaint little village with colourful pastel houses, some with trompe l'oeil paintings on them. A walk to the top of this hilly place will give you beautiful views of the village and coastline. This is also a pleasant place to sit and people watch, either at an outdoor cafe or restaurant. We also found a tiny stretch of sand and water where locals and tourists alike can enjoy the sunshine or a quick dip.
Oratorio della Madonna del Suffragio (also called Oratorio della Buona Morte e Orazione) was originally built in 1523 but than completely reconstructed to its present appearence in the 19th century. The church preserve organ from 1686 which is the oldest organ in whole Provice of Liguria. Also, it preserving a valuable paintings of Christ, attributed to painter Domenico Piola.
Convento dei Padri Cappuccini was started to built in 1608 and completed in 1611. It is small, simple but beautiful church with characteristic capuchine stripes on its front facade.
Order of Friars Minor Capuchin arose in 1520, following the strict worshiping of St. Francis and his manner of life. The order was founded by Franciscan friar Matteo Bassi . The Capuchins adopted the hood (or cappuccio) which was the mark of a hermit and the practice of wearing a beard. The eremitial was abandoned but the life of friars was to be one of extreme austerity, simplicity and powerty, neither the monasteries nor the Province should posses anything. The friars were not allowed even to touch the money. Capuchin friars have to serve to the community, contributing to the people by lots of voluntaring works.
It is, what in my opinion, the church should be, serving to the people.
It takes about one and a half hours to walk from Santa Margherita to Portofino. When leaving Portofino you'll climb somewhat and pass by some elegant homes and hotels like Hotel Splendido in one of the pictures. You'll also enjoy some beautiful views of the Ligurian Sea. You'll pass by the town of Paraggi and many beaches. If you get tired or too hot, you can always hop on a bus.
The semicircular beach of Santa Margherita is covered with chaises, umbrellas, cabanas, and people in the summer season. Forget the fact that the beach is pebbles (some would say rocks). From morning till night, the place to see and be seen. And in the accompanying photos, just get a look at the view across the water.
The center of Portofino is the main plaza and adjacent harbor, the place to see and be seen. The most amazing thing about this area is that it looks just like the photographs and postcards - you could be in the next advertisment. No false advertising here. And it is beautiful. Stroll around with your (overpriced) gelato, visit the trendy stores, and make new friends around the harbor.
If visiting Santa Margherita one cannot miss seeing the gorgeous village of Portofino.This tiny port town,(nicknamed "Pearl of the world"), one of Italy’s most romantic and colorful little towns. Portofino is truly beautiful and stunning. Looking out into the distance at the yachts and fishing boats bobbing in the water is an absolutely breathtaking sight.
Portofino is also filled with history with spectacular Italian buildings, narrow roads, luxurious villas with their magnificent gardens, million dollar yachts anchored off shore and at the marina, with the castle of San Giogio on its doorsteps makes Portofino a stunning Italian experience.
There are three ways to get to Portofino from Santa Margherita.
1. By foot, its a fantastic walk and a must do on everyone's travel list. The scenery is magnificent and totally captivating.
2. By boat - you can catch the ferry from Santa Margherita ferry terminal located on the waterfront. Its approx 10 minutes ferry ride, its a lovely way to see the stunning coastline, splendid villas and million dollar yachts .
3. By bus - The local bus goes regularly from Santa Margerita to Portofino. Its a tiny bus that weaves its way through the narrow road overlooking the cliffs and ocean. It takes approx 15 mins.
4. By car - DO NOT TAKE your car, its a complete waste of time as the road is very narrow and windy with heavy conjestion of traffic. There is also very limited parking in Portofino.
Anyone visiting must try some foccacia from 'Francesca's Pinamonti' - It's the best in town - not too dry....Delicious for lunch or a snack. Has been our 'packed food' choice when taking trips out of town.
If visiting Santa Margherita then one must take the ferry over to see Cinque Terre. The ferry ride is a lovely way to see the landscape of the Italian Riverina.There is eighteen kilometers of sheer rocky coastline, terraced hills and vineyards sloping steeply down to the sea. Five little villages are built into the rocks between the beach and the hills. Centuries old footpaths and mule tracks wind about 500 to 1,000 feet above the sea, leading through olive groves and vineyards, orchards and chestnut woods.The five villages that make up the Cinque Terre, from north to south are:
• Monterosso al Mare
You can also catch a train which takes about one hour from Santa Margherita. All information regarding travel to Cinque Terre can be found at the tourist office and also at the railway station.
You cannot take your car beyond the village entrances or gates. So its much easier to leave your car behind in Santa Margherita, La Spezia or Levanto.
Camogli is known as the city of "Thousand White Sailing Ships" due to its rich maritime history. Its a lovely village with plenty of cafes, restaurants and beaches. Camogli often hosts many festivals ,so you could be lucky to hit the town on the right day. Ferries run from Portofino to Camogli in summer time.
The ultimate trip is to hire a private boat and see San Fruttuoso and Camogli together from Portofino or Santa Margherita.
The castle, aslo called Santa Margherita, was built by the Republic of Genoa in 1550 as defense against the increasing attacks of North African pirates. It was designed by the same architect of the castle os Rapallo. After World War II the castle has been restored and entitled to the Italian victims of that conflict.
The castle was constructed on a small cliff called San Temo. Today it is open for the public hosting exibitions or arts and cultural events.
Basilica di Santa Margherita d'Antiochia is also called Oratorio di Nostra Signora della Rosa, and is derivated by the legend according to which beautiful stone rose was brought by the seamen who donated it to the church. This huge sacral construction dominates over Piazza Caprera and the whole centre of the place. Santa Margherita d'Antiochia is patron saint of the city and the festivity is celebrating on July 20th.
The Baroque styled basilica was built in 1658 on a site of an oldest church from the 13th century. It has Latin cross plan divided in three naves by the columns and cupola on its top. The interiors preserving valuable paintings and marble sculptures.