An inhospitable terrain of steep mountains and dense woodland separates San Rocco and Portofino, requiring two steep climbs and two steeps descents to cross between them. The secluded bay of San Fruttuoso marks halfway and is a relaxing place to gather your energy.
A taxi will drop you at San Rocco Church where the road abruptly ends, and you must continue on foot in order to navigate this challenging terrain, both mountainous and thickly forested. Occasional clearings in the trees offer viewpoints stretching along a sweep of coastline, where a scattering of quintessentially Italian colourful houses cascade up the mountain-side. Climbing higher on a steep set of switchbacks increases both the challenge and the rewarding views.
At the conclusion of a steep descent, and marking the halfway point of the walk, is the secluded bay of San Fruttuoso. You can shorten today’s walk by catching a ferry from here directly to Portofino, though if sufficiently rejuvenated by the calm, turquoise waters and the range of restaurants available, the second half of the walk remains a dramatic adventure.
Your first glimpse to Portofino is of a crowded harbour, squeezed with small dinghies and expensive yachts, all cradled by the surrounding hills. Nestled along the waterfront the houses and restaurants form a Roman mosaic, with a random yet complimentary range of colour.
The cafes and restaurants in Portofino overflow out of the buildings and into the waterside piazza; enjoying a meal or drink while watching the boats come-and-go is the surest way to celebrate today’s hike.
There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path
There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic, unless there is a verge separated by line-markings that provides space to walk on.
Much of the path is rocky. Bear in mind these may be slippery when wet, place your feet with care, and use the handrail, where one is provided.
Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.
Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.
Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking.
Be sure to bring plenty of sun cream and a healthy respect for the sun.
Points of Interest
San Fruttuoso Abbey
This Abbey is only accessed on foot or by boat, which gives it an air of exclusiveness. It is dedicated to Saint Fructuosus, a bishop martyred in the 3rd century, and has stored his ashes since the 8th century. The abbey was maintained by the powerful Genoese Doria family in the 13th century with the nearby Doria Tower constructed in 1562 to defend the abbey.
More information available here: https://www.portofinocoast.it/en/camogli-abbazia-san-fruttuoso.aspx
Portofino was a glitzy hotspot of the rich and famous during the 1950’s… and not much has changed! Today you can still expect to find superyachts moored in the harbour, or anchored outside if they’re too massive. Wander the shopfronts that face the harbour to discover designer stores such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Yves Saint Laurent, and browse the menus of seafood restaurants that will make your eyes pop! Thankfully, wandering around the crescent moon shaped harbour is still a free and delightful activity!
Food and Drink
After 5 kilometres you will pass a small restaurant in the forest which offers a secluded and peaceful alternative to the restaurants in San Fruttuoso itself – though those can hardly be considered bustling and touristy either!
After 5.8 kilometres, you will reach San Fruttuoso. Hugging this secluded bay are a small collection of restaurants where you can buy food or a drink. This is the exact halfway point of the hike, and a good opportunity to replenish your energy.
For a small village, Portofino has an incredible number of restaurants to cater for the daily influx of tourists. You can find a range of food, for a range of budgets, and all enjoyed in the wonderful setting of Portofino Harbour.
There are water taps to refill your water bottles after 0.8, 4.7 and 8.6 kilometres.