Italy // Liguria //

Walks around Portofino

The Portofino headland – protected as the Parco Naturale Regionale di Portofino (w parks.it) and encircled by cliffs and small coves – is one of the most rewarding areas for walking on the Riviera coast. At 612m, Monte di Portofino is high enough to be interesting but not so high as to demand any specialist hiking prowess. The trails cross slopes of wild thyme, pine and holm oak, enveloped in summer in the constant whirring of cicadas. From the summit, the view over successive headlands is breathtaking. Not many people walk these marked paths, maybe because their early stages are fairly steep – but they aren’t particularly strenuous, levelling off later and with plenty of places to stop. One of the best trails skirts the whole headland, beginning in Camogli, on the western side of the promontory. The path rises gently for 1km south to San Rocco (221m), then follows the coast south to a viewpoint above Punta Chiappa, before swinging east to the scenic Passo del Bacio (200m), rising to a ridge-top and then descending gently through the olive trees and palms to San Fruttuoso (3hr from Camogli). It continues east over a little headland and onto the wild and beautiful cliff-tops above Punta Carega, before passing through the hamlets of Prato, Olmi and Cappelletta and down steps to Portofino (4hr 30min from Camogli). There are plenty of alternative routes. About 1km south of San Rocco, an easier path forks inland up to Portofino Vetta and Pietre Strette (452m), before leading down again through the foliage to San Fruttuoso (2hr 30min from Camogli). Ruta is a small village 250m up on the north side of Monte di Portofino, served by buses from Camogli, Santa Margherita and Rapallo; a peaceful, little-trod trail from Ruta heads up to the summit of the mountain (2hr), or diverts partway along to take you across country to Olmi and on to Portofino (2hr 30min from Ruta).