Portofino Vetta is a panoramic area, where a very exclusive restaurant – hotel stands, the Portofino Kulm, that you also can reach walking along the two kilometre paved road starting in front of the beginning of this itinerary. The road is named after Sebastiano Gaggini, the financial backer of this hotel, built between 1903 and 1906, that soon become very fashionable thanks to the environmental value of this area.
Beyond the buildings of the hotel departs a small path on the left that takes you to the Violara area, passing through the Costa Ramezzana, where you can find a proper agritourism with many domestic animals and several varieties of local fruit plants.
Passing the barrier that block the access to the pathway by car, there are the great RAI television repeaters, that gives the name (Antenne) to the area; from here starts another path which takes you to an indescribable net of short routes that link the bellows areas.
In just few metres you reach the Gaixella area, towards the western wooden site of Mt. Portofino and its peak, while admiring the view that embraces both the gulfs of Paradiso and Tigullio, delimited by the promontory, and on clear days the whole Ligurian mountain belt and the ever white Apuan Alps. Sella Gaixella, or Donzina, is derived from the name of a small hamlet below, is an important pedestrian crossing with a fountain and some signposts.
This itinerary runs along a large and easy rising pathway, through the wood that covers the northern side of the Promontory as far as its summit, at the maximum height, permitting some naturalistic observations. You immediately find many cypress and silver-fir but the black hornbeam is however the predominant vegetation along the whole route. There also chestnut and downy-oak tree in the lower part.
Besides the tree layer these woods also have many shrub layers with young arboreal examples, holly, cornel tree, laburnum, hazelnut, heather and a herbaceous layer with grass, anemones, primulas and so on, that grow in early spring when the trees are still without leaves and the sunshine can reach the whole underbrush.
The first part develops along the contact of the two rock formations of the Promontory: the Mt. Antola limestone and the conglomerate. Here only the conglomerate, that overlaps the limestone hiding it with huge rock blocks fallen from the original mass, crops out.
Climbing uphill, you go through a conifer-tree wood with its dark underbrush; in fact the trees were planted quite near each other, otherwise the competitive natural vegetation would have developed through them. There is almost no underbrush and the lower branches are defoliated because of the lack of the light. The competitive plant roots can’t grow enough and hold firmly to the ground.
The needles not yet decomposed on the ground slowly turn into a humus not suitable for the survival of most natural species of this area, including the young plant used for reafforestation, that can’t grow wild here. Passing by the massive conglomerate blocks, the route allows appreciation of the peculiar summit area; hot air masses from the southern seaside meet the cold north draughts here, causing high humidity that often condenses into a thick fog.
After a few great densely fractured conglomeratic towers just before the narrow and scarcely visible valley towards Santa Margherita, you soon rise to the peak where Semaforo Vecchio is located.
You reach Sella Porcile, a path crossroad between Mt. Portofino and Mt. Tocco, that is surrounded by great cluster-pine trees and you can see the ruins of an old small barracks and where there is a little picnic area. The southern hillsides of the Promontory plunge towards depp sea floors, in a typical settlement made of rocks, strips of Mediterranean maquis and rock plants.
The steep hillside beyond the irony railing, a proper balcony overlooking the sea, may surprise you. As Rocca del Falco, the landscape suddenly changes a lot: a few minutes earlier you were enjoying the aerial views over Cala dell’Oro and now, passing through a cool and dark valley with no view of the sea, you are in the sunshine again, over the steep ridge that ends in Camogli with the rise of Castellaro, looking at the Alpine crests.
Walking in the level and soon on a descent, you enter the mesophilic wood where you find many cut down trees. You can see that the hillside becomes more gentle northwards, where the Hotel on Portofino Vetta stands, because the marly limestone replaces the conglomerate here in the Gentile stream, the only watercourse fairly developed on the western side of the Promontory, flows.
You quickly reach the Sella Gaixella crossroads, also known as Sella Donzina from the name of a small village below, where there is a picnic area and a small drinking fountain.