Italy: Portofino (Liguria region)

Ahhh Italy. Who wouldn’t love an Italian trip? The wine, the beaches, the lakes, the Italian Alps, the countryside, its history, the architecture, people, and did I mention the wine? I believe everyone in their life should take a holiday to Italy. It’s so vast and like most large countries, there are 8 different regions and all have a unique feel to them.

Portofino is in the Liguria region and I rented a car in South France and drove here, which was really easy. You’ll hang along the coast and pass major cities like Geona, but the drive from Monaco to Santa Margherita Liguria took about 3 hours depending on how many times you stop of course. There is very little parking in Portofino so it is recommended that you take another form of transportation into the city… I’ll explain later 🙂

The rilassato (Italian for relaxed) side of Liguria, is also known as the Italian Riviera.

Portofino / Santa Margherita Liguria:

Portofino is the very small port city that has turned into a must visit on any Italian trip. It is known for the colorful houses and shops that line the small harbor and a summer destination spot for many celebrities. But unless you are arriving on a private yacht, I suggest you stay in Santa Margherita Liguria.

There are few hotels in Portofino and most can get really expensive really fast, so we stayed at the Hotel Sant’Andrea in Santa Margherita Liguria (I got a great deal booking through booking.com). Trust me when I say that I am glad we did! Beautiful hotel, about an 8 min walk to the water. It was perfect because it gave us a chance to explore the city a little bit on our walk. We had no idea what to expect from the city. but for me, I wish I had another day here. Santa Margherita is a bustling town. Mixing the old street vibes of why you’ll travel to Italy with the energy of a big city; there are lots of good food/wine/gelato options located throughout.

Getting to the hotel was a little tricky since the streets were so small however with very little street parking, you are able to secure a private garage space (email ahead to confirm a spot). They offer a complimentary breakfast with all the fixings and were extremely helpful with suggestions. The outside of the hotel had the traditional Italian charm with a very updated and comfortable room.

Getting into Portofino from Santa Margherita Liguria is very simple. You basically have 3 options… 1) Taking a water taxi, 2) the bus or 3) a private taxi. If you don’t try and go too late, I would suggest the water taxi. It will cost € 7,00 one way or € 12,00 for a round trip, but make sure to check the schedule since they stop running fairly early. Which is what happened to us, so we went with the bus. It took about 20 minutes but was a beautiful ride along the coastline. If time permits, I would water taxi in and take the bus out. Since the bus runs later… you will be able to spend more time in the city.

Where to eat: Strainers

We never heard anything bad about any of the restaurants, guess it all depends on what you’re into. There are many places to choose from in the central plaza, some even have a floating dock so you are literally eating on the water. But I recommend Strainer restaurant. (We were able to secure a reservation along the water at thefork.com). From our table, we had great views of the cities of the boats that were docked there. We are vegan and the owner came out to discuss a meal he could have prepared specifically for us. Our off the menu dish was topped off by fresh truffle mushrooms shaved at our table. I noticed the other tables getting their pasta tossed in a block of parmesan cheese at the table and then served. Looking at other’s reviews of the restaurant, most were saying that it was expensive. You are in Portofino, on the water, getting tableside service, what do you expect?! Personally, we had a 5-star experience!

 

Take a stroll through the city after dinner and enjoy where you are in the world! Catch the bus back and have a gelato or espresso before heading back to the room.

 

As I said, I wish I had an extra, at least, in Santa Margherita Liguria (SML). The town had a great energy to it. There are some other fun excursions that you could from SML. One is taking a day trip by boat to Cinque Terre. The gentleman at the front desk of our hotel mentioned this as we checked in, unfortunately, we had already booked a spot in Riomaggiore the next day. But he said that you can take a private or semi-private boat to Cinque Terre that will allow you to enjoy the small towns there as well as have a swim out in the Mediterranean. Uhhhhh yes, please!

There is also a cool diving spot in SML that I did not know about until after I left. In the water just offshore, there is a statue of Christ of the Abyss that, it seems, is easy to dive to. So now I’m already mentally planning my return trip since this just sounds like fun!

Simple phrases to know while in Italy:

  • Ciao –> Hello
  • Per favore –> Please
  • Buongiorno (Bon-jer-no) –> Good Day
  • Aiuto! –> Help
  • Che ore sono –> What time is it?
  • Che bella –> How beautiful
  • Grazie (mille)–> Thank you (very much)
  • vino rosso / vino bianco –> red wine / white wine
  • Locale birra –> Local beer
  • one / two / three –> uno / due / tre

1 Comment

  • Rod Lewis September 30, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    Very impressive layout of pictures and text. You make me want to go back to Italy. Wonderful way to preserve your memories as well as sharing them with others.

    Reply

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