Portofino – Liguria, Italy

Portofino – Liguria, Italy

Postcard of the Italian Riviera

Portofino wins the beauty contest in Liguria, the crescent-shaped region known as the Italian Riviera. The town’s perfect little harbor has been designated a historical landmark, and Portofino is said to be the most photographed village in the world.

The facades of the fishermen’s dwellings are painted in the rich colors for which Liguria is known—faded mustard, ocher, pink, and rust. A fishing village no longer, Portofino is now graced by swank villas nestled in the wooded hills above; the small boats bobbing in the marina (alongside glamorous 150-foot yachts) are no longer used for fishing but as pleasure craft.

This exceedingly pretty village lies at the end of an unspoiled peninsula that is a carefully guarded government preserve, criss­crossed by marked footpaths affording beautiful views of the coastline.

Exhilaration of another kind is as easily found at the harborside restaurants, despite their tourist-trap location. Follow the heady perfume of pesto- flavored trenette pasta and grilled scampi to a disarmingly simple Ligurian meal.

Cunningly situated on a hillside above town is one of the world’s most famous getaways, the Hotel Splendido. If the roster of world-famous VIP guests doesn’t make you feel lightheaded (the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were the first to sign the visitors’ book in 1952), the views from this Benedictine-monastery-turned-villa-turned-five-star-hotel will.

The 4-acre garden of luxuriant semitropical vegetation is so entrancing that even the five-minute stroll down to Portofino’s perfect stage-set harbor (and its recently opened sister hotel, the Splendido Mare) may not lure guests away.

The simple joy of an aperitivo on the Splendido’s terrace overlooking the romantic bay and its tree-covered peninsula makes any evening a grand event. Groucho Marx summed it up nicely: “Wonderful place, wonderful people.”

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