I like to think that Alberto Ciana, who was already a long-standing hotelier in Piedmont, came up with the idea to build the Continental as he was scanning the horizon one evening way back in 1903. He must have wondered what he could see beyond that line that delineates sky and sea. What did he see? It must be asked. The Future.
Alberto understood that a fishing village such as Santa Margherita, which is accessible only by sea and located near Monte di Portofino and its natural harbour, would have a future in tourism. So it came to be that this beautiful Art Nouveau building now sits atop this promontory overlooking the sea, facing due south, with a lovingly landscaped park graced with holm oaks and centuries-old pine trees.
Illustrious guests began to winter here. Members of the Romanoff family stayed at the Continental between 1919 and 1920, after having left Russia: I have copies of papers documenting this stay, which the Grand Duke Nicholas, who was one of our regular clients, gave to my family himself The Wagner Family sent us a postcard thanking us for our hospitality after their holiday. Fernanda Pivano, who spent long periods of time at our hotel over the course of many years—right up until a few months before she left us for good—spent nights here writing her biography. The wars and other various challenges have not undermined in the slightest the strength and professionalism of those who ran the hotel at that time. After having been appropriated during World War II, the hotel was returned to the possession of Cesare and Tilde Ciana in 1947.
Today, Roberto Ciana runs the hotel—together with his wife Marina and children Marinella and Cesare—with the same professionalism, class, and elegance of yesteryear.