Liguria, fragile and scented land, packed between the mountains and the sea, expresses its best in the five towns the whole world knows as the Cinque Terre, between Punta Cavo di Montenero and Punta Mesco. The whole area, after a period of exchanges and trade in the Roman age, was pretty much forgotten during the Republic of Genoa, and it is probably precisely owing to this that the place maintained its natural beauty intact. However, the charm of this region is not limited to the Cinque Terre; Lerici is also an extremely fascinating little town, of very ancient origin and for centuries a thriving trading port contended between Etruscans, Romans, Ligurians, the Genoese and the Pisans, for its strategic position. And what can we say about Portofino? One of the most exclusive and renown International tourist destinations. Of Roman origin, the residence for Byzantines and Longobards, and more recently Austrians, French and Spaniards, the town was the protagonist, in the fifties, of an unprecedented tourist success that shot it into International jet-set stardom. Equally beautiful is the nearby Santa Margherita, its origin tied into a number of political factors that saw it in opposition to the nearby San Giacomo until 1800, when finally relations of brotherhood were established and the two cities were united by Napoleon with the name of Porto Napoleone. The city was later called S.Margherita di Rapallo and only in 1863, with a royal decree by Vittorio Emanuele II, did it obtain its current name.
For nature lovers, the beauties of the Cinque Terre are not limited to the dry land. The coast strip between the promontory of Punta Mesco and Capo di Montenero is now a natural park, called Area Marina Naturale Protetta delle Cinque Terre. Nature and landscape are also Lerici's main attractions. A privileged viewing point is its splendid medieval castle: built in the first half of the 13th century by the Pisans and later expanded by the Genoese, it is a splendid example of military architecture. The building contains the Geo-palaeontology Museum. Also interesting would be a visit to the Oratorio di San Rocco, of medieval age, and the Parochial Church of San Francesco d'Assisi, with sacred furnishings of special worth. Portofino also offers a splendid oratorio, that of the brotherhood of N.S. Assunta, from the 14th century. However, Portofino's greatest attraction is the Brown Castle, which dates back to the year 1000.
In Santa Margherita Ligure you can visit Villa Durazzo, historical dwelling with period furniture and paintings by maestros of the Genoese school of the 17th century. The Villa, surrounded by the park, also contains the "Vittorio G. Rossi" museum.
Among the many processions and food fairs of the Cinque Terre, it is worth pointing out the Corpus Domini, in Monterosso al Mare. The roads on the historical centre, the "caruggi", where the procession walks through, are decorated with carpets of flower petals.
Traditionally, the first Sunday of the month Lerici holds the Festa del Mare with the competition of the Palio del Golfo. This is a rowing tournament during which the various fractions and districts of Lerici, La Spezia and Portovenere compete. In July, there is the festival of Sant'Erasmo, patron saint of the town.
In S.M. Ligure, on the other hand, the hold the Spring Festival in March, the National prize for the figurative arts in August and various other happenings throughout the year, be them cultural, sport or society related.
The traditional appointments for Portofino are the San Giorgio Festival and the Zegna Sailing Trophy, a traditional society happening.