Portofino Vetta – Mount Portofino – Pietre Strette, is a splendid nature hike in the Portofino Regional National Park.
It is a loop hike that starts and finishes at Portofino Vetta and, along the way, crosses Mount Portofino, the highest mountain of the Portofino promontory, Semaforo Nuovo and Pietre Strette.
The hike is a marvel because it combines stretches inside the forest with views overhanging the sea.
Portofino Vetta – Mount Portofino – Pietre Strette: how to get there
From the A12 motorway, take the Recco exit. At the stop sign, turn right and enter the village.
Go straight on at the first roundabout and turn left at the second roundabout, following for La Spezia.
Continue along the provincial road to Ruta di Camogli and, just before the tunnel, turn right past the archivolt.
Continue with the car uphill until you reach, after a few minutes, a large, well-marked free car park, reserved for visitors to the Portofino Park.
You can leave your car here or continue for another 400 metres until you reach the Hotel Kulm car park at Portofino Vetta.
A sign forbids entry to unauthorised visitors but the Hotel Kulm has been closed for several years now so you can proceed.
In any case, from both the large car park and Portofino Vetta, you will find access to the Park trails.
Portofino Vetta – Mount Portofino – Pietre Strette
Height of departure and arrival – Portofino Vetta 402m
Maximum altitude of the excursion – Mount Portofino 608m
Length of route – approx. 9km
Timing – 2h50 (us with the girls, 3h50)
Recommended period – All year round
The paths within the Portofino Park are really well signposted, but there are a lot of them, and on this hike we will take several of them.
Therefore, I recommend following the itinerary I am going to describe step by step, paying attention to the change of signposts so as not to take the wrong path.
Portofino Vetta – Mount Portofino – Pietre Strette: route
Leave the car in the large car park and continue on foot along the tarmac road, passing Hotel Kulm and arriving, in about ten minutes, at Portofino Vetta, at the entrance to the path.
The alternative is to access the park trails directly from the car park and, at the first fork, turn right.
In this case, however, count an extra twenty minutes or so to get to Portofino Vetta.
We walked along the carriage road on the outward journey and the dirt track on the return, thus completing a complete loop.
The signpost to follow is the solid red square.
Portofino Vetta – Mount Portofino – Pietre Strette
Once at Portofino Vetta, a 15-minute walk along the same path leads to a crossroads: the path to take is the central one, marked by the triangle sign formed by three red dots.
The path, which is wide and slightly uphill, continues in hairpin bends beneath a beautiful beech and chestnut forest.
After about half an hour, we reach Semaforo Vecchio, or the summit of Mount Portofino, at an altitude of 608 metres.
Semaforo Vecchio because, around 1807, a telegraph was placed on the summit of Mount Portofino, which was dismantled by the Savoys seven years later.
The summit is basically a grassy plateau with several tables where you can have a picnic.
From Mount Portofino to Semaforo Nuovo
From Mount Portofino, take the path on the left side of the building, marked by the two red triangles.
The path descends into the woods and leads first to Sella Porcile and then to the locality of Toca, in about 30 minutes in total. At both, there are two picnic areas.
At this point, one proceeds straight ahead following the red triangle marker that leads to Semaforo Nuovo, where one can admire a fantastic panorama of the Gulf of Tigullio.
Here, too, there are several tables with benches.
From the Semaforo Nuovo to Pietre Strette
Having taken the customary photos, from the Semaforo Nuovo we return to the locality of Toca and take the path to the right, marked by the red triangle sign.
Thanks to the view of the coast below, this part of the path is the most beautiful of the entire route.
In places, the vegetation is taking over , but Cala dell’Oro and San Fruttuoso di Camogli can be seen without difficulty. Spectacular!
In this very stretch, the Mediterranean scrub is a riot of scents and colours, thanks to the fruits of the ripe strawberry trees (you can find them from October to December).
From here, the path re-enters the forest and leads to Pietre Strette, a crossroads of several paths.
From Pietre Strette to the car via Portofino Vetta
Fro Pietre Strette, one continues until taking the path on the left, marked by the full red square marker, which leads back to the crossroads.
From here, you retrace the outward path but, once you reach Portofino Vetta, instead of leaving and returning from the car on the carriage road, you continue straight ahead on a dirt track (skirting the Hotel Kulm on the opposite side of the road from the outward journey).
After about 15 minutes of walking, we turn onto the path to the left that descends to the car park, thus concluding our loop in a total of 3h50 minutes.
Portofino Vetta – Mount Portofino – Pietre Strette with the children
Given the length of the route, the hike is only suitable for children who are trained and already accustomed to mountain treks.
Most of the route is on a wide path, but in the stretch from Toca to Pietre Strette, the path in many places is quite narrow, without protection, and overhanging the sea.
We walked it with a 4-year-old girl held by the hand, without any particular problems.
As mentioned several times on other hikes, she is small but quite well trained and used to trails of varying degrees of difficulty.
On this excursion, there are no refreshment points but there is a drinking water fountain at Pietre Strette.
Portofino Vetta – Mount Portofino – Pietre Strette: recommended period
The hike from Portofino Vetta to Mount Portofino is feasible at any time of year.
Most of the route remains shady so it is also practicable in summer.
We went in autumn and it is the period I would recommend both because it is foliage season (although the colour change of the leaves is not as pronounced as in other parks in Liguria) and chestnut season.
In fact, there are plenty of them along the path.