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Castello Brown, Portofino

#1 of 18 in Things to do in Portofino
Must see · Castle · Tourist Spot
Castello Brown is a house museum located high above the harbour of Portofino, Italy.

The castle's site is well suited for harbour defence, and appears to have been so used since Roman times. According to the Record Office of Genoa, cannon batteries were constructed on the site in the early 16th century, and military engineer Giovanni Maria Olgiati drew up plans for a full fortress circa 1554. In 1575 the castello was instrumental in turning back an attack on the town by Giò Andrea Doria. The structure was enlarged from 1622 to 1624, and survived in this form for a century and a half. The little tower was destroyed in 1798 by an English attack during Napoleon's Ligurian Republic. The castello was abandoned after the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

In 1867, the structure was purchased for 7,000 lire by Montague Yeats-Brown, then English consul in Genoa. He engaged the architect Alfredo D'Andrade, and with advice from his artist friend and fellow-consul James Harris the fort was transformed to a comfortable villa without substantial alteration in its general form. Brown bought many church reliefs during the general selling-up of churches in the 1880s and made them a feature of the villa's interior and terraces.

Yeats-Brown's descendants held the property until 1949, then sold it to an English couple, Jocelyn and Lieutenant-Colonel John Baber CBE. The Babers restored several ruined sections, and in turn sold it in 1961 to the City of Portofino. Throughout this time, the property was managed by several generations of the Garbarino family.
Elizabeth von Arnim wrote her novel The Enchanted April at the Castello in 1922. The award-winning 1992 movie adaptation featuring Miranda Richardson and Joan Plowright was filmed on site.
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676 reviews
  • The view is nice. Have no idea why they do not sell water and/or snacks along the way. To me this was overrated. My husband thought so too. The garden was nice, the castle was plain. Not great for...  more »
  • Located high on the hill in Portofino the castle is perfectly sited overlooking the sea. The entrance to the castle is up a long winding path from Portofino bay that takes in the views between the...  more »
  • While Portofino itself is overestimated, this castle brought my visit a nice turnover. Even tough the path to reach the lighthouse was closed, reaching the castle was a nice idea. 5€ to enter is a bit too much, but the view is worthy, especially from the windows on the sea, than on Portofino where you can see just ships and restaurant.
  • It's a decent hike up there but worth it. An incredible view of the Portofino harbor area. The castle itself was comparable to others in Italy and not necessarily exceptional. The view was exceptional though and worth it.

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