Overlooking a small bay of rare beauty, San Michele di Pagana has kept intact its original structure of fishermen’s village with houses opening their doors directly on the beach.
Starting from S. Margherita we find three little coves in sequence: Prelo, Trelo (or Travello), and Pomaro.
Prelo and Trelo are separated by a promontory whose top is dominated by the beautiful baroque facade of the church of San Michele Arcangelo (right in front of our Hotel) whose foundation dates back to 1113.
In the church there is a crucifixion painted by the famous Flemish painter Antoon Van Dyck on commission of the nobleman Francesco Orero.
Near the church stands the Torre Pagana which was built by the Republic of Genoa around 1500. In the eighties the tower became the property of the FAI that has taken care of the conservative recovery of the watch tower.
The Punta Pagana Castle is located within the private park of Villa Spinola. This ancient fortress (unfortunately not open to visitors), which dates back to early 1600s, is part of a defence system ordered by the Republic of Genoa in order to protect harbours and villages of the Tigullio Gulf from the frequent pirates raids.
Of the same period are other two constructions of this kind: the fortress of S. Margherita Ligure (west) and the Castle on the sea of Rapallo (east).
Villa Spinola (now known as the Villa of the Order of the Knights of Malta), has become one of the residences of the “Grand Maestro” of the Order since 1959.
The construction of the former villa was commissioned by the Orero family around 1600; according to historical documents the first owner was Francesco Orero, whose son commissioned the painting of the crucifixion to Van Dyck.
The ownership of the villa then passed to the Spinola family who enriched the gardens and interiors. The last member of the family, Admiral Franco Spinola, on his death in 1959 left the entire property of the villa, and the castle below, to the Order of the Knights of Malta.
Just before Villa Spinola, stands a beautiful building known as Villa del Trattato, which represents the border between the municipalities of Rapallo and S. Margherita Ligure.
On November the 12th 1920, the Treaty of Rapallo was signed there. The treaty established the new territorial boundaries between Italy and Yugoslavia.
The signing of this treaty marked the annexation to Italy of Gorizia, Trieste, Pola and Zara.