To many, Portofino, Italy is regarded as a resort for the rich and fabulous, recognized for its iconic harbor, crystal waters, and celebrity visitors. But there’s plenty to see in this seaside settlement for us normal people too. Portofino is situated in the province of Genoa on the Italian Riviera. Ornate buildings splashed with color line the relatively small harbor, itself cluttered with wooden boats and expensive yachts. Lush trees and greenery envelop the village and surrounding mountains. It’s a beautiful sight in the summer time, views plucked straight from The Travel Channel.
You can bus or ride the train from Santa Margherita into the area, but if you have the opportunity, absolutely take a boat. The scenery from the water is incomparable. You can take a boat from Genoa or use the ferries that frequent between Portofino and its neighboring villages- Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo, and Camogli. The best time to visit is between April and October, when the weather is nice and transportation services are in full swing.
Once docked in the heart of the harbor, you’re free to explore the town. Because it is a desirable tourist and yachting destination, be prepared to splurge on food and drinks. Restaurants definitely jack up their prices, but remember you’re essentially paying for the view. Although, there are dozens of eateries to choose from, many positioned directly on the shoreline. Caffe Mariuccia, located in the main circle, features its famous “paciugo” ice cream. This place was recommended to us by other travelers, so we decided to give it a try. Now, a single cup of this treat is around 15 euros. Pricey for just ice cream right? I thought so too, until I tasted it. We had sampled other gelati in Italy, but this was by far the best. It was a combination of strawberry gelato, sweet vanilla cream ice cream, homemade whipped cream, fresh cut strawberries, and brandy-soaked cherries. Our intentions of splitting one cup failed miserably, as we inhaled three orders. Folks, if heaven serves food, it is this ice cream.
Remember when I said Portofino was renowned for its celebrity visitors? Well it did not disappoint. Aside from the views, Portofino is a notable shopping district. You can visit a variety of local souvenir shops and posh boutiques, as well as high-end designer stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. My eyes were immediately set on Armani however. When we arrived by water, the private yacht of Armani himself was docked in the harbor, a massive jet-black structure proudly flying the Italian flag.
Just as we were making our way off our boat and down the dock, a group of paparazzi pushed us to the side, cameras flashing. We were completely flustered and didn’t really know what was happening. At the moment, actress Cate Blanchett passed right in front of me! We watched as she and her posse made their way onto Armani’s yacht. Not even 5 minutes in Portofino, and we had already seen a celebrity. We were pumped. But as it turned out, that wasn’t even the best part. As we were laughing over our million-dollar gelato, paparazzi started swarming again. This time it was the legend himself. Giorgio Armani approached the same restaurant and chose a seat two tables away from our own! We could not believe it.
Portofino was undeniably beautiful and worth every moment, but this experience just made it that much more special.