Tuesday, 17 September 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY 201 - WILSONS PROM, AUSTRALIA

“Wilderness is a necessity there must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls.” - John Muir 

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Wilsons Promontory is a peninsula that forms the southernmost part of the Australian mainland and is located in the state of Victoria. South Point at 39°08′06″S 146°22′32″E is the southernmost tip of Wilsons Promontory and hence also the southernmost tip of mainland Australia. Located at nearby South East Point, (39°07′S 146°a25′E) is the Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse. Most of the peninsula is protected by the Wilsons Promontory National Park and the Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park.

The first European to see the promontory was George Bass in January 1798. He initially referred to it as “Furneaux's Land” in his diary, believing it to be what Captain Furneaux had previously seen. But on returning to Port Jackson and consulting Matthew Flinders he was convinced that the location was so different it could not be that land. Bass and Flinders recommended the name Wilsons Promontory to Governor Hunter, honouring Flinders’s friend from London Thomas Wilson. Little is known of Wilson except that he was a merchant engaged in trade with Australia.

The promontory has been a national park, to one degree or another, since 1898. Wilsons Promontory National Park, also known locally as “the Prom”, contains the largest coastal wilderness area in Victoria. The site was closed to the public during World War II, as it was used as a commando training ground. The only settlement within Wilsons Promontory is Tidal River which lies 30 kilometres south of the park boundary and is the focus for tourism and recreation. This park is managed by Parks Victoria.

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Tuesday, 10 September 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY 200 - MORNINGTON, AUSTRALIA

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” - Jacques Yves Cousteau

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Mornington is a seaside town on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia, located 57 km south-east of Melbourne's central business district. It is in the local government area of the Shire of Mornington Peninsula.Mornington is known for its "village" atmosphere and its beautiful beaches. Mornington is a popular tourist destination with Melburnians who often make day trips to visit the area's bay beaches and wineries. The town centre runs into the foreshore area and local beach.

Mornington is an attractive destination for shopping and features some excellent restaurants and cafes. The north of Mornington is also home to several horse breeders and stables. It has a modern library, cinema and numerous parks, gardens and historical buildings, many of which are open to the public. It holds several annual festivals, and holds a market day in the main street every Wednesday, which attracts hundreds of people.

Mornington has an active Yacht club (Mornington Yacht Club), located at Schnapper Point, catering for sailors of all levels and abilities, from beginners - “Tackers”, through to those competing at ocean racing level. The club hosts many state, National, & International regattas, as it provides a good location in sheltered, pristine waters. 2014 saw the successful running of the largest single class Yachting regatta ever held in the Southern Hemisphere - the Optimist National Championships. The Optimist is a youth class and drew over 2000 people to the Club and Mornington shire.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY 199 - CASTELLAMARE DEL GOLFO

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” - Rabindranath Tagore 

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While driving from Palermo to Segesta in Sicily, we came upon a very picturesque town. Castellammare del Golfo (Sicilian: Casteddammari) is a town and comune in the Trapani Province of Sicily. The name is roughly translated “Sea-Fortress (i.e. castle [on the] sea) of the Gulf”, deriving from the medieval fortress in the harbour. The body of water it sits upon also takes its name from the fortress, Golfo di Castellammare.

In ancient times, Castellammare had been the harbour of Segesta, one of the main towns of the Elymian people. Fishing has been important in Castellammare del Golfo dating back to ancient times. Today the town's economy continues to be based on fishing with the addition of tourism.

The small town is noted, however, for having been the birthplace of many American Mafia figures, including Salvatore Maranzano, Stefano Magaddino, Joseph Barbara, Gaspare Milazzo, Peter Magaddino, Giovanni Bonventre, Pietro Caiozzo, Gaspare DiGregorio, Matteo DiGregorio, Sebastiano Domingo, Giovanni D'Anna, Francesco Puma, Camillo Galante, Pietro Crociata, Michele Adamo, Girolamo Asaro, Francesco Garofalo, Giovanni Fiordilino, Giovanni Tartamella, Joseph Buccellato, Francesco Buccellato, Vito Buccellato, Natale Evola, Vincenzo Danna, Charles DiBenedetto, Jimmy Costa, Giovanni Romano, Sasa Parrino, Cola Schiro, Joseph Notaro and Joseph Bonanno. From this name comes also the Castellamarese war, fought by Joe Masseria clan against Salvatore Maranzano clan for the leadership of the Italian Mafia in New York City!

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Tuesday, 27 August 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #198 - MILFORD, USA

“I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” - Khalil Gibran 

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Milford is a coterminous municipality within Coastal Connecticut and New Haven County, Connecticut, between Bridgeport, Connecticut and New Haven, Connecticut. The population was 51,271 at the 2010 census. The city includes the borough of Woodmont and the village of Devon. Milford is part of the New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical Area. It is the headquarters of the mega-business Subway.

Every year on the third Saturday in August, Milford celebrates its annual Oyster Festival, which serves as a combination of a typical town fair with a culinary celebration of the town’s location on historically shellfish-rich Long Island Sound. This festival takes place in and around the Milford Green, near the centre of town, as well as in various locations throughout the downtown area, and features a wide variety of events including canoe and kayak races, musical performances, and classic car shows. The Milford Cultural Center, operated by the Milford Council for the Arts, offers various events throughout the year. The Firehouse Art Gallery was recently opened in Devon.

The beach resort quality of the town lives on, with several rocky beaches, Silver Sands State Park, the Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center at Milford Point, Charles Island, two golf courses, and numerous other recreational facilities available for residents and tourists. Starting in 2011, the Walnut Beach Concert Series has taken place under the pavilion at Walnut Beach. It features a different band playing every Sunday afternoon during the summer. Milford has over 23 km of shoreline facing Long Island Sound, the most of any town in Connecticut. A large portion of Milford’s shoreline forms the Silver Sands State Park. A newly built 1.2 km boardwalk was opened in 2011 that connects Silver Sands to Walnut Beach in Devon.

Charles Island is also a part of the park and is a protected bird nesting ground. There is a sand bar (called a tombolo since it is perpendicular, not parallel to the coast) accessible during low tide that people can walk on from Silver Sands Beach to Charles Island. In addition to Silver Sands State Park, Milford has five public beaches with lifeguard services for its residents - Gulf Beach, Anchor Beach, Hawley Avenue Beach, Walnut Beach, and Middle Beach - as well as seven private beaches. 

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Tuesday, 20 August 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #197 - BERLIN, GERMANY

“Berlin, the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.” — David Bowie

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Berlin is the capital and the largest city of Germany as well as one of its 16 states. With a population of approximately 3.6 million people, Berlin is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany on the banks of Rivers Spree and Havel, it is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region, which has about 6 million residents from more than 180 nations. Due to its location in the European Plain, Berlin is influenced by a temperate seasonal climate. Around one-third of the city's area is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers and lakes.

First documented in the 13th century and situated at the crossing of two important historic trade routes, Berlin became the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417–1701), the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and the Third Reich (1933–1945). Berlin in the 1920s was the third largest municipality in the world. After World War II, the city was divided; East Berlin became the capital of East Germany while West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989) and East Germany territory. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of a unified Germany.

Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media and science. Its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations and convention venues. Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a highly complex public transportation network. The metropolis is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries also include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology, construction and electronics. Modern Berlin is home to world renowned universities, orchestras, museums, entertainment venues and is host to many sporting events. Its urban setting has made it a sought-after location for international film productions. The city is well known for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts and a high quality of living. Over the last decade Berlin has seen the emergence of a cosmopolitan entrepreneurial scene.

The Brandenburg Gate (German: Brandenburger Tor) is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin, and one of the best-known landmarks of Germany. It is built on the site of a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel. It is located in the western part of the city centre of Berlin within Mitte, at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. One block to the north stands the Reichstag building, which houses the German parliament (Bundestag). The gate is the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees, which led directly to the royal City Palace of the Prussian monarchs. It was commissioned by King Frederick William II of Prussia as a sign of peace and built by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791. Having suffered considerable damage in World War II, the Brandenburg Gate was restored from 2000 to 2002 by the Stiftung Denkmalschutz Berlin (Berlin Monument Conservation Foundation).

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Tuesday, 13 August 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #196 - SPINALONGA, GREECE

“I try to give to the poor people for love what the rich could get for money. No, I wouldn’t touch a leper for a thousand pounds; yet I willingly cure him for the love of God.” - Mother Teresa

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The island of Spinalonga (Greek: Σπιναλόγκα), officially known as Kalydon (Καλυδών), is located in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete, in Lasithi, next to the town of Plaka. The island is further assigned to the area of Kalydon. It is near the Spinalonga peninsula (“large Spinalonga”) – which often causes confusion as the same name is used for both. The official Greek name of the island today is Kalydon.

Originally, Spinalonga was not an island, but rather a peninsula of Crete. During Venetian occupation the island was carved out of the coast for defence purposes and a fort was built there. The Venetians harvested salt from salt pans around the island. Later in the mid-20th century, the island was used as a leper colony.

Spinalonga featured in the British television series “Who Pays the Ferryman?” and Werner Herzog’s experimental short film “Last Words”. It is the (unnamed) setting of Ali Smith’s short story “The Touching of Wood” (in “Free Love and Other Stories”, 1995). It is also the setting for the 2005 novel “The Island” by Victoria Hislop, the story of a family’s ties to the leper colony; the book was adapted for television in the television series “To Nisi” by Mega Channel Greece. The short story “Spinalonga” by John Ware, about a tourist group that visits the island, was included in the 13th Pan Book of Horror.

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Tuesday, 6 August 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #195 - CAPE YORK, AUSTRALIA

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.” - Anne Frank 

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Cape York Peninsula is a large remote peninsula located in Far North Queensland, Australia. It is the largest unspoiled wilderness in northern Australia. The land is mostly flat and about half of the area is used for grazing cattle. The relatively undisturbed eucalyptus wooded savannahs, tropical rainforests and other types of habitat are now recognised and preserved for their global environmental significance, but native wildlife is threatened by introduced species and weeds.

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Tuesday, 30 July 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #194 - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

“A great opera house isn't run by a director, but by a great administrator.” - Steven Berkoff

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Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia’s largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design. Massive Darling Harbour and Circular Quay are hubs of waterside life, with the towering, arched Harbour Bridge and esteemed Royal Botanic Gardens nearby. Sydney Tower’s 268m glass viewing platform, the Skywalk, offers 360-degree views of the city, harbour and suburbs.

Here is a view of the Opera House from the front terrace, a view not often seen on postcards. The massive scale of the building is better appreciated here, when one notices the tiny human figures next to the building.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #193 - PALAIOKARYA, GREECE

“Go to the truth beyond the mind. Love is the bridge.” - Stephen Levine 

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Τhe old, one-arched stone bridge of Palaeikarya was built around 1525, and has a length of 26 metres, an arc opening of 19 metres and a height from the river bed 10 metres. Behind it is a 12 metre high waterfall, with the river continuing after the bridge to a lesser waterfall 2 metres high. The river that passes through the spot is Palaiokaritis and if we continue the journey downstream we reach the gorge of Palieokarya where there is still a functioning watermill where one can watch flour being milled.

The bridge of Palaiokarya joined Thessaly to Epirus and was a busy route at that time. Now it is in a deserted spot and is surrounded by great natural beauty. The bridge frames steep, high rocks with much low-lying vegetation and trees. A large variety of herbs and rare wildflowers grows in the area in Spring and Summer. There is also a great number of animals and birds in the forest around the old bridge.

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Tuesday, 16 July 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #192 - SORRENTO, ITALY

“One of the great joys of traveling through Italy is discovering firsthand that it is, indeed, a dream destination.” - Debra Levinson

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Sorrento (Neapolitan: Surriento) is a town and comune in Campania, southern Italy, with some 16,500 inhabitants. It is a popular tourist destination which can be reached easily from Naples and Pompeii, as it lies at the south-eastern end of the Circumvesuviana rail line. The town overlooks the Bay of Naples as the key place of the Sorrentine Peninsula, and many viewpoints allow sight of Naples itself, Vesuvius, and the Isle of Capri.

The Amalfi Drive (connecting Sorrento and Amalfi) is a narrow road that threads along the high cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ferry boats and hydrofoils provide services to Naples, Amalfi, Positano, Capri and Ischia. Sorrento's sea cliffs and luxury hotels have attracted notable people, including Enrico Caruso and Luciano Pavarotti.

Sorrento is famous for the production of limoncello, a digestif made from lemon rinds, alcohol, water and sugar. Other agricultural production includes citrus fruit, wine, nuts and olives. Wood craftsmanship is also well-developed in the area. 

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Tuesday, 9 July 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #191 - KYTHIRA, GREECE

“Greece has got something like 1,400 islands. There is so much of Greece you can’t know even if you’re Greek. It’s sprinkled out all around the edge of the Aegean, all over the place. It’s already a secret place wherever you go, even if it’s somewhere huge like Athens or Corinth. The place enchanted me.” – Joanna Lumley

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Kythira (Greek: Κύθηρα, also transliterated as Cythera, Kythera and Kithira) is an island in Greece lying opposite the south-eastern tip of the Peloponnese peninsula. It is traditionally listed as one of the seven main Ionian Islands, although it is distant from the main group. Administratively, it belongs to the Islands regional unit, which is part of the Attica region (although at large distance from Attica itself).

The island is strategically located between the Greek mainland and Crete, and from ancient times until the mid 19th century was a crossroads of merchants, sailors, and conquerors. As such, it has had a long and varied history and has been influenced by many civilisations and cultures. This is reflected in its architecture (a blend of traditional, Aegean and Venetian elements), as well as the traditions and customs, influenced by centuries of coexistence of the Greek, Venetian, and Ottoman cultures.

Kythira has a land area of 279.593 square kilometres and it is located at the southwestern exit from the Aegean Sea, behind Cape Malea. The rugged terrain is a result of prevailing winds from the surrounding seas which have shaped its shores into steep rocky cliffs with deep bays. The island has many beaches, of various composition and size; only half of them can be reached by road through the mountainous terrain of the island. The Kythirian Straits are nearby.

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Tuesday, 2 July 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #190 - NEW ZEALAND STH ISLAND

“New Zealand was one of the most beautiful countries to drive through for the scenery and the vast scale of the place.” - Louise Redknapp

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The South Island or Te Waipounamu is the larger of the two major islands of New Zealand, the other being the smaller but more populous North Island. It is bordered to the north by Cook Strait, to the west by the Tasman Sea, and to the south and east by the Pacific Ocean. The South Island covers 150,437 square kilometres and enjoys a temperate climate. As it has a 32% larger landmass than the North Island, it is sometimes referred to as the “mainland” of New Zealand, especially by South Island residents; however, only 23% of New Zealand’s 4.6 million inhabitants live in the South Island.

In the early stages of European (Pākehā) settlement of the country, the South Island had the majority of the European population and wealth due to the 1860s gold rushes. The North Island population overtook the South in the early 20th century, with 56% of the population living in the North in 1911, and the drift north of people and businesses continued throughout the century.

The South Island is divided along its length by the Southern Alps, the highest peak of which is Aoraki/Mount Cook at 3754 metres, with the high Kaikoura Ranges to the northeast. There are eighteen peaks of more than 3000 metres in the South Island. The east side of the island is home to the Canterbury Plains while the West Coast is famous for its rough coastlines such as Fiordland, very high proportion of native bush, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. The dramatic landscape of the South Island has made it a popular location for the production of several films, including “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

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Tuesday, 25 June 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #189 - SARDINIA, ITALY

“This land resembles no other place. Sardinia is something else. Enchanting spaces and distances to travel, -nothing finished, nothing definitive. It is like freedom itself.” - David Herbert Lawrence 

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Cagliari (Sardinian: Casteddu; Latin: Caralis) is an Italian municipality and the capital of the island of Sardinia, an autonomous region of Italy. Cagliari’s Sardinian name Casteddu literally means castle. It has about 150,000 inhabitants, while its metropolitan city (including Cagliari and 16 other nearby municipalities) has more than 431,000 inhabitants. According to Eurostat, the population of the Functional urban area, the commuting zone of Cagliari, rises to 476,974. Cagliari is the 26th largest city in Italy and the largest city on the island of Sardinia.

An ancient city with a long history, Cagliari has seen the rule of several civilisations. Under the buildings of the modern city there is a continuous stratification attesting to human settlement over the course of some five thousand years, from the Neolithic to today. Historical sites include the prehistoric Domus de Janas, very damaged by cave activity, a large Carthaginian era necropolis, a Roman era amphitheatre, a Byzantine basilica, three Pisan-era towers and a strong system of fortification that made the town the core of Spanish Habsburg imperial power in the western Mediterranean Sea.

Its natural resources have always been its sheltered harbour, the often powerfully fortified hill of Castel di Castro, the modern Casteddu, the salt from its lagoons, and, from the hinterland, wheat from the Campidano plain and silver and other ores from the Iglesiente mines. Cagliari was the capital of the Kingdom of Sardinia from 1324 to 1848, when Turin became the formal capital of the kingdom (which in 1861 became the Kingdom of Italy).

Today the city is a regional cultural, educational, political and artistic centre, known for its diverse Art Nouveau architecture and several monuments. It is also Sardinia’s economic and industrial hub, having one of the biggest ports in the Mediterranean Sea, an international airport, and the 106th highest income level in Italy (among 8,092 comuni), comparable to that of several northern Italian cities. It is also the seat of the University of Cagliari, founded in 1607, and of the Primate Roman Catholic archdiocese of Sardinia, since the 5th century AD.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #188 - ALICE SPRINGS, AUSTRALIA

“It’s no good going on living in the ashes of a dead happiness.” ― Nevil Shute, A Town Like Alice 

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Alice Springs is the third largest town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Popularly known as “the Alice” or simply “Alice”, Alice Springs is situated roughly in Australia’s geographic centre. The area is known as Mparntwe to its original inhabitants, the Arrernte, who have lived in the Central Australian desert in and around what is now Alice Springs for thousands of years. The name Alice Springs was given by surveyor William Whitfield Mills after Lady Alice Todd (née Alice Gillam Bell), wife of the telegraph pioneer Sir Charles Todd.

Alice Springs has a population of 27,972, which makes up 8.7 percent of the territory’s population. Alice Springs is nearly equidistant from Adelaide and Darwin. The town straddles the usually dry Todd River on the northern side of the MacDonnell Ranges. The surrounding region is known as Central Australia, or the Red Centre, an arid environment consisting of several different deserts.

In Alice Springs temperatures can vary dramatically, with an average maximum temperature in summer of 35.6 °C and an average minimum temperature in winter of 5.1 °C. Alice Springs has faced many problems in recent years, largely stemming from an increase in crime and a strong racial divide that has existed for years in the town.

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Tuesday, 11 June 2019

TRAVEL TUESDAY #187 - PORTOFINO, ITALY

“Italy and the spring and the first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” - Bertrand Russell 

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Portofino is an Italian fishing village and vacation resort famous for its picturesque harbour and historical association with celebrity and artistic visitors. It 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.

According to Pliny the Elder, Portofino was founded by the Romans and named Portus Delphini, or Port of the Dolphin, because of the large number of dolphins that inhabited the Tigullian Gulf. The village is mentioned in a diploma from 986 by Adelaide of Italy, which assigned it to the nearby Abbey of San Fruttoso 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 Portofino was sold to the Republic of Florence by Charles VI of France, but when the latter 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 1815 it became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and, from 1861, of the unified Kingdom of Italy.

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 amongst the more famous English people to make the area fashionable. Eventually more expatriates built expensive vacation houses, and by 1950 tourism had supplanted fishing as the town's chief industry, and the waterfront was a continuous ring of restaurants and cafés.

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