Historical Guests

Portofino, a World apart
February 2009

Andrea Doria in Portofino.

It isn’t easy to get one’s bearings in this complex period of history that goes from the period of the “signorie” in Italy to the formation of Spanish domination on the peninsula. Carlo V. whose ancestors left him half of Europe as an inheritance, was for that reason i puzzle. When he played the game of forging alliances, he was easily tempted to “throw in the towel”. Speaking in particular of Andrea Doria who in his last years was allied with Charles V. it is terrifying when one notes how this great man changed sides so often. Andrea Doria was in admiral of Francesco I, the king of France, when the Adornos dominated Genoa with the support of the Spanish.

Andrea Doria was allied with the French and had established his general headquarters at Cervara where the Fieschis were quartering their troops in the courtyard of the monastery. In a location so impenetrable it was difficult to be attacked by adversaries, who would have easily been seen anyway by the guards placed at strategic points on the mountain. Andrea Doria, for his part, maintained a blockade of the port of Genoa. impeding ships supplied with provisions from landing. In that year of 1527 Andrea Doria stayed quite some time in Santa Margherita Ligure. It would be his last year in the service of the French King. It is well known how, for questions of money, in that same year the admiral made up his mind to pass from the side of Carlo V, of whom he was once a great supporter and from whom he had in exchange the prerogative to direct a great part of the gold coming from the Americas to Genoa.

In the years after 1529 Andrea Doria concerned himself with “his” riviera which at the time was continually under the threat of incursions by Barbary pirates. He had the entire coast from Portofino to the point of Pagana and beyond put under constant surveillance. However this did not prevent the terrible sacking of Rapallo by the pirate Dragut twenty years later. (1) As a result of this, the castle that today one finds above the Hotel Laurin was built in 1550 as a defense against pirates. Andrea Doria was then often in Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino, locations that he preferred for their splendid natural scenery as well as for their strategic military position being all but unreachable except by the sea. (1) This was as a result of the internal fighting of the Genovese noble families that paid no heed to the great admiral.

, a World apart.