Portofino, in search of the mountain goats

I was in the mood to wander through the trails of the Portofino Park, a magical place that remains open every day with free admission (from Ruta di Camogli, Nozarego-Santa Margherita, and Portofino).

In the autumn, among well-maintained paths, you can admire unique plants and perhaps encounter the now famous mountain goats, which some zoologists believe to be a native species, while others think they were imported. I know that during these days, it’s easier to get closer to the animals than in the summer. There’s less heat, fewer people, and, in short, it’s easier to see them. So, I set off from Ruta di Camogli, just before the tunnel that separates the Paradiso Gulf from the Tigullio. I parked my car in a parking lot and started walking towards Portofino Vetta.

The first part is an easy hike with a slight incline along the paved road that, in the golden years of elite tourism, was travelled by the fancy cars of the guests of the Portofino Kulm, the 5-star hotel that has also hosted some crowned heads. Immersed in a well-maintained forest, you can enjoy fantastic views to the west, admiring the Paradiso Gulf and Genoa in the distance. The view extends to the horizon and touches the border with France. Beyond the hotel buildings, on the right, the path leads to Gaixella, along the imposing Rai transmitters.

Gaixella, or Donzina (Dolcina), named after a very small cluster of houses below, is an important pedestrian junction. From here, you can head to San Rocco, Paradiso, Portofino Vetta, and Pietre Strette on the well-marked trails indicated by signage. Or you can take a break in the small equipped area. I chose the path to Semaforo Vecchio, and the nature is lush. You’ll encounter numerous cypresses, white firs, oaks, and chestnut trees that, at this time of year, appear as orange spots on a phantasmagorical palette dominated by the blue of the sky and the sea, as well as the green of other tree species.

It’s here that I first notice the traces of the goats I longed to see: I spot two of them in the distance, I approach, and they run away. But I feel fulfilled. These wild and delightfully agile inhabitants exist, and I’ve seen them. I have time to reach Porcile, a place that seems tailor-made to define the term “panorama”: “pan” and “orao” for the Greeks, meaning to see everything. And from here, you can truly see everything you could ask for from Liguria.

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