Portofino! Merely a mention of the name and a smile stretches across my face, reminding my brain of what pure, untouched beauty looks like. This Italian coastal town has everything you could wish for, based on all of the wonderful tales visitors have shared of this place and it’s many glamorous appearances in movies over the years. Unlike Genoa or Milano, Portofino knits threads of romanticism, softness and endless charm, nestled in the very core of the Liguria, one of Italy’s smallest regions.
The Liguria’s Incredible Italian Riviera
The Liguria is the crescent-shaped region in northwest Italy and it’s Mediterranean coastline is known as the Italian Riviera, which is exactly where you’ll find the perfect little town of Portofino. Surely enough, Liguria falls among the most popular and vivid Italian shores.
Portofino is a fishing village transformed into an exclusive holiday destination for lovers of both simplicity and luxury. In my personal opinion, it’s a great destination for anyone looking for a sense of wilderness, balanced out by traditional Italian dishes and soft tambourine sounds echoing through every alley in town.
My sudden urge to explore Portofino
Truth be told, I was actually visiting Genoa for one week in June but I felt a strong urge to explore Portofino as well. I only had one day to spare, so I came up with an effective route that would make my trip to this tiny town worth it. Rest assured that Portofino is equally as impressive to travelers passing through as it is for those staying for a few days or for the lucky few, weeks. So, let me tell you the story about how Portofino had me at “hello”…
How to get from Genoa to Portofino
The first thing I did was to check how well-connected Genoa and Portofino were, in terms of transport. As it turns out, they offer plenty of means that lead you straight to your destination. I decided upon a train as one of the fastest, cheapest and most nature-gazing options. It took me (okay, it took the train, lol) around 40 minutes to halt in Santa Margherita, a less-known summer destination with plenty to offer to local and international tourists. But, I had my mind set on Portofino for the day, so I took the first bus there, hoping to roam Santa Margherita another day.
The bus ride to Portofino
Was simply extraordinary. The entire coastal area is nestled into a tamed hillside arch, thus hugging the entire town. Upon arriving the bus stopped on a hillside peak, leaving me impressed by a mesmerizing 9 a.m. view of Portofino’s architecture and infrastructure. This town rules! As I said, it had me at “Hello”.
Just 1 day means no time to waste
I wasted no time striding down the steep, stone-paved streets. Eager to let the town reveal itself to me in all of it’s glory. And, boy did it! Portofino is everything you hoped it would be…and then some. Multi-colored authentic houses lean over the busy café-packed streets. The air smelled of summer bliss, freshly-made pastry and a hot cup of Italian’s finest espresso. But, before I chose to wine and dine, I needed to see more of what Portofino had to offer.
The best way to see Portofino
What I found is that the best way to see this rustic town is by taking a long, freestyle stroll. A fine and not-so-challenging track basically lets you explore the most secluded and impressive spots. I walked at my own pace and let the path lead me to the opposite side of town which was also one of the highest points in Portofino which means… great views! I took a moment to admire the stunning seascape, Portofino’s hillside panorama reminded me of the movie ‘Casino Royale’. On the other side of the hill, I found myself in awe by a phenomenal ‘Cast Away’ seascape view, urging me to scream ‘Wilson!!’ off the top of my lungs. Now, time to take some photos!
Shopping in Portfofino
Way down we go along the fabulous streets with endless traditional Italian shops. Here you can buy anything from a silk dress to a souvenir to take home. If you enjoy spending a few bucks on memories… go right ahead! Pleasantly tired and with an appetite larger than words, I took a seat at one of the central Portofino restaurants, overlooking the petite, yet exquisite Portofino boat dock. Here, I savored a much-needed ‘alone time,’ taking photos and trying a fabulous Bolognese pasta dish and a glass of local white wine.
Some advice for travelers on a budget…
Not the cheapest town in Italy, Portofino can be quite aggressive for your budget. If you like keeping things balanced, make sure you skip lunch and make do with a cup of coffee instead. Oh, and one more thing! In Portofino, carrying bottled water along for the ride is simply essential!
Okay time for beach talk
As a small town with a population of around 500 residents, Portofino doesn’t really offer a central place for sunbathing. The town itself is quite tiny and narrow in all aspects, so I decided to leave an hour early. As I left town, I skipped waiting on my bus and decided to walk along the main road to reach Santa Margherita on foot. The walk itself took 20 minutes, but something more intriguing caught my eye there.
As I dodged passing Vespa bikes, I noticed a secluded downhill path leading me to one of the most intimate, yet perfect Portofino beaches. Five minutes of walking now seemed like more than just a good cardio session! In all honesty, the tranquility of this place is unmatched to anything else I’ve ever witnessed.
There’s a meekness to the sun, leaving your skin ever so slightly blushed. The water? An almost transparent mix of greens and blues, lying over a collage of vibrant pebbles, just peeking from beneath the smooth surface. I figured a quick swim was everything I needed and more, so I let loose, listening to the waves, folding and crashing against the rocky shore. Truly the perfect day spent in Portofino in the company of wonderful waves, fabulous food and endless sights for sore eyes!
An hour later, I sipped a double espresso in Santa Margherita, reminiscing on my day in Portofino and I couldn’t help but think – heaven is a place on Earth, indeed!
Have you visited Portofino yourself? Share your own experiences of this tiny dot of a town in The Italian Riviera in the comments section below!