Portofino Kulm

Portofino Kulm: the “other” Portofino

Italian version 🇮🇹

Portofino Kulm: the story of the Portofino Kulm HOTEL

✅ Before starting with the reading, we put below some really interesting links, about the surroundings of Portofino Vetta. Take a look! 😉

Portofino Kulm, the other Portofino, as we defined it in the title, is Portofino Vetta. 

Despite the name, Portofino Kulm is in the municipality of Camogli! (map below)

Portofino Vetta
What a view from Portofino Vetta! Photo By Davide Marsano

Portofino Kulm owes its “birth” its notoriety, to a Swiss entrepreneur: Sebastiano Gaggini, financier of the Canton of Ticino, but resident in Paris.

Take also a look: 5 place to see absolutely in Camogli

Who was Sebastiano Gaggini?

He was the first to understand the potential of the place: this was a fabulous location. 😍

At one side, it dominated Camogli and the Golfo Paradiso from above. On the other, Santa Margherita Ligure and the whole Golfo del Tigullio 

He invented and built the “Kulm” hotel, at the beginning of the 20th century, taking some inspiration from the Rihi Kulm in Lugano.

🏨 The hotel, inaugurated in 1908, with a liberty style, in Gaggini’s ideas, was the Italic meeting place of the “beautiful world”. 

Take also a look: Punta Chiappa, such a wonderful place!

Portofino Vetta San Fruttuoso
Camogli and Golfo Paradiso from Vetta in a winter, sunny day – Photo By Davide Giambrignoni

Gaggini was the first to realize the potential of Monte di Portofino, in the new born Italian “tourism industry”. 

He thought of a lookout, with three telescopes, to “catch your breath” and sweep the view, from the Apuan Alps to the French coast, embracing the whole Liguria.

Take also a look: Don’t miss the Christ of the Abyss!

Portofino Kulm, Ruta di Camogli
Arriving at the Kulm Hotel, at Portofino Vetta

Gaggini had a very specific idea: he wanted to make the Kulm and the Promontory an ideal extension of his Switzerland. 

The 💡 idea… worked well! During the “Belle Époque” , the Kulm Hotel became one of the most famous hotels in the world.

Street to Portofino Kulm

The carriage road is the real “flagship” of the building.

✔ Gaggini was so far-sighted that he began the construction earlier, in 1903, when 🚗 cars were a real rarity.

The first mass-produced cars came about 8-9 years later! What a genius!

Portofino Vetta, Ruta di Camogli-Kulm

Connection with “Ruta di Camogli” became a vital work.

📜 We still have evidence today, with the discovery of numerous postcards and antique prints, which portrayed with great pride, the first 🚌 Bus services, departing from Camogli.

Famous guests

Gabriele D’Annunzio was the one who translated the name “Portofino Kulm” – into the Italian “Portofino Vetta” .
The “Vetta” of Portofino soon became the new world destination of the aristocracy: rich people, writers like Nietzsche (housed in the “dependance” of Ruta), Rosa Luxemburg, and many Russian and foreign rich exiles arrived here.

Take also a look at: 5 places to see in Portofino

Portofino Kulm hotel-Portofino vetta
Arriving at the Kulm Hotel (Closed) – Photo by Davide Giambrignoni

📜 The Italian Queen Mother, in 1908 elected Kulm as the “ideal place for royal and court family holidays “, for the healthy air, sunbathing, walks on the mountain and, above all, for the “wonderful view of the two Gulfs” .

Among the guests of the hotel, there was Guglielmo Marconi , who (especially in July 1934) loved walking up the hill and its surroundings.

At that time, Marconi was busy with his experiments, in Santa Margherita Ligure and aboard his yacht, 🚤 the Elettra.

During breaks from his work, he went to Kulm, often inviting observers of his nautical experiments, to lunch.

Take also a look at: 5 places to see in Santa Margherita Ligure

Portofino Kulm: The Decline

The glorious epic of Kulm began to fade, with the ⚔ World War One. At first, the hotel became a prison camp, for the Austro-Hungarians. Then, a military hospital.

The hotel was the meeting place of numerous diplomatic personalities, linked to deal ✍ “peace treaties” of Genoa and Rapallo.

In 1935, the creation of the Park Authority – that saved the Monte di Portofino from building speculation – indirectly causing the 📉 slow and inexorable fall of the hotel.

In the early 90s, Fondiaria Sai (insurance) and Raul Gardini (Fondiaria’s Ceo) saved the place, until the manager’s death in 1993, with the subsequent entry of Portofino Kulm srl, property of the De Ferrari and De Gregori families .

📈 There was an attempt to resume activities, at the beginning of 2000 (see the Video up), and after a last – discreet – “swan song“.

Portofino Kulm hotel, Portofino Vetta
Portofino Kulm hotel in semi-abandonment state (Dic. 2021) – Photo by Davide Marsano

▶ Since 2013, Kulm Hotel is closed and in a state of semi-abandonment, due to differences between owners and managers. What a shame.

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