What to See

Portofino, a World apart
28
May 2009

Santa Margherita Ligure

Port of Santa Margherita Ligure

Santa Margherita Ligure, is one of the most picturesque little towns of the Eastern Riviera. In summer it is a fashionable bathing resort.  The beach is mainly of pebble but there are modern bathing establishments especially after the tourist port trough Portofino. During the colder part of the year it attracts a large number of visitors, as it is a quiet, restful, sunny place. It receives a larger amount of sunshine than its near neighbour, Rapallo, but is not quite so well sheltered. The population numbers about 9,000. In winter, tennis and boating are the chief outdoor recreations, apart from the excursions which can be made on foot or by car in the beautiful country behind the town, and in a steamer along the coast to Rapallo, Portofino, Camogli and San Fruttuoso. Indoor amusement is catered for by a theatre, cinemas, and numerous ballrooms.

Around an inlet of the Gulf of Tigulllo lies the original fishing village, from which rise wooded slopes dotted with villas and hotels. Along the sea-front is an avenue and there are spacious public gardens. On the shore is a tower built in 1550 for the defence of the place and now protected as a national monument. Not far from it a long flight of steps leads up to the Church of San Giacomo dl Corte. Here are frescoes dating from 1868 and, over the high altar, a wooden statue said to have floated from Messina to Corte, and, having been restored to Messina. floated back again, thus demonstrating its preference for Corte. Standing in a beautiful garden near the church is Villa Centuzlone, built in 1560. In former days Corte was an independent port. It is now one of the two parishes of Santa Margherita Ligure. The other parish bears the name of the town. Its church stands in the Piazza Caprera. The interior is profusely decorated. In the choir are depicted the martyrdom and apotheosis of St. Margaret.

Over the high altar is an image of the Virgin said to have been venerated since the thirteenth century. It was in the ancient church which the present building replaced. When in the course of the rebuilding, the former chapel of Our Lady was pulled down, there was discovered under the image a vessel of water which worked miraculous cures. In consequence of this, the Pope bestowed a crown upon the image. On the fifth Sunday after Easter the statue, glittering with gems, is carried in procession through the illuminated streets. The little cemetery is worth a visit, if only to see a sculptor’s representation of an elderly couple seated in arm-chairs and addressing two gentlemen (perhaps their sons) standing before them hat in hand. Enquiries regarding accommodation etc., should be trough our special page dedicated to the Hotels of Santa Margherita Ligure. Running along the coast southward from Santa Margherita is a very charming road.

Just outside the town there comes into sight the square tower of the Monastery of Cervara, founded in 1340. In it Francis I, after being defeated and taken prisoner by the Spaniards in 1525, spent a night on his way to Spain, as is recorded on a tablet in the room which he occupied. (Permission to visit the monastery is given on some period only.) A short distance farther is the modernized old castle of Paraggi – now occupied from the Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi – standing on a rock on the seaward side of the road. Then almost at once is the fishing hamlet of Paraggi, on the shore of its tiny bay, backed by pine-clad heights.

Portofino, a World apart.