Portofino is a small fishing village located on the Tyrrenian Sea in the Liguria region of Italy. Known for its picturesque harbor, it is a famous destination for vacationers and celebrity residents on the Italian Riviera.
Portofino does not have an airport or train station. I highly recommend arriving by boat or bus, although you can also walk or drive to it. Hourly ferries run from neighboring towns, ferry services from Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, Rapallo, Chiavari, Lavagna, Sestri Levante to Portovenere and Cinqueterre and to Genoa’s port. From the water, you can get an extraordinary 360 perspective of the colorful building along the harbor.
Although the port itself is quite commercial, the backdrop of colorful buildings leaning onto each other and the turquoise blue waters adds a magical appearance to the landscape. Some would call it a “tourist trap” as there are lots of expensive restaurants, bars and shops alongside the port. In my opinion, you go to Portofino to admire its beautiful architecture and scenery, not to get an authentic meal.
Spend some time taking the stairs up to Castello Brown on one end and Church of St. Martin (Divo Martino) on the other. Walking through narrow cobblestone alleys with perfumed gardens are great ways to explore the old town and get away from the hustle and bustle of tourists. On the way, you will come across many photo opportunities.
Another good walk is through the gardens of Hotel Splendido, located at the top of the hill in a cozy corner. Visitors can enjoy the view from the property for free, but if you want to stay around to have a lunch or cocktails, be prepared to bring your credit card.
There are cheaper and local snacking options that are native to the region. When in Liguria, you have to try the Focaccia alla Genovese, a flat bread baked with olive oil, salt and herbs (such as rosemary). Although the flavors are simple, the freshness of the ingredients makes it hard to resist munching through many squares of the bread.
Paciugo is an Italian Riviera sundae found especially in Portofino. A few restaurants seems to carry this sweet concoction of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet, mixed with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and stewed cherries. It’s definitely worth 12 Euros for a cup!
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Listen to the song Love in Portofino by Andrea Bocelli.