Portofino Kulm, the other Portofino, as we defined it in the title, is Portofino Vetta.
Surprise: Despite the name, Portofino Kulm is in the municipality of Camogli! (map below)
Portofino Kulm owes its “birth” its notoriety, to a Swiss entrepreneur: Sebastiano Gaggini, financier of the Canton of Ticino, but resident in Paris.
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”.
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.
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 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!
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 services of 🚌 Bus servicese , departing from Camogli. 👇
✍ 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 .
📜 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.
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“.
▶ Since 2013, Kulm Hotel is closed and in a state of semi-abandonment, due to differences between owners and managers. ❌
What a shame. 😔