There are so many things you will love about Portofino, from the relative scarcity of foreign tourists (compared to nearby Cinque Terre) to the glamour of the Italian Riviera. However, for your ease of reference I have narrowed them to my top three: sequins (go with me on this one); magical cocktails; and seafood with a view.
OK, so maybe not just sequins. Sequins are just a metaphor for the ridiculous amount of glamour and style in Portofino. It ranges from the most effortlessly casual chic right through to luxe resort wear and OTT sequinned attire of every kind (of which I saw a lot). And while you might inadvertently recoil when I say “sequinned swimwear” (and rightly so), trust the Italians to somehow make it work in an unexpectedly tasteful way. I can’t exactly explain how. I guess you had to be there.
Shopping in Portofino town itself is truly fabulous, however. Chloe, Celine and Gucci are all to be found here, as well as some lower-key little gems.
For optimal sequinned-swimwear spotting, as well as the best swimming (in turquoise water) and general sun-lounging, head to the charming cove of Paraggi. It’s about a twenty minute walk from Portofino.
To find these magical cocktails, you will need to set off from Portofino on foot, climbing the many stairs up to Castello Brown, a 16th-century fortress (just follow the signs along the bougainvillea-lined passageways from the harbour).
As for us, we arrived at Castello Brown in the heat of the late-afternoon, a little frazzled from the climb. But this made us all the more delighted when we found, in the dappled-shade of the garden at Castello Brown, a vision in the form of the most charming little al fresco cocktail bar. It was frozen strawberry daiquiris all round, looking out over the carefully tended hillside gardens and onward to the Mediterranean. And I swear I have never tasted a cocktail so delicious, so refreshing, so magical in all my life.
Was it the view? The mid-summer heat? The jazz gently playing on the breeze? The buzz from the daiquiris after the climb in the sun? All of the above, my friends, all of the above.
fresh seafood with a view
Its fair to say that pretty much anywhere you go in Italy you’ll find delicious food. However, what we found in Portofino and its surrounds was mind-blowing fresh seafood served with a side of the most insanely beautiful views. Two stand-outs were:
1. La CAntina – san fruttuoso
San Fruttuoso can only be accessed via a hike through beautiful forest, or by boat (we chose boat). From the abbey, follow the pathway to La Cantina, where the most divine grilled prawn and langoustine platter awaits you, as you sit down at your table on the beach.
2. Capo nord
We all agreed that the next one of us to get married would have to hold our wedding at Ristorante Capo Nord, which is situated on a rocky outcrop into the sea, just a short drive from Portofino. The dining is totally al fresco, under the stars and gorgeous lights strung overhead.
My most important advice to you is this: go to Capo Nord, dress to impress, take someone special, arrive just before sunset and order the gnochetti with prawns. You can thank me later.