“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life,” wrote the Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. An ardent lover of Italy (and a muse of the painter Modigliani herself), she perfectly captures the mesmerising, sensual experience of this most celebrated country. To experience the full effect of Italy’s magic, discover Portofino.
THE JEWEL of the Italian Riviera, Portofino’s charm is in its intimacy. Its roots stretch back to the time of Pliny the Elder, who recorded that it was named Portus Delphini for the many dolphins which could be found there. Originally a fishing village, Portofino first attracted aristocratic patronage in the 19th century but has maintained its intimate, rustic feel to this day. One never forgets the sight of Portofino’s beautiful pastel-toned houses bordering the turquoise waters of the bay.
Above all, there’s a sense of privacy here; Portofino feels like a secret retreat. This, along with its incredible beauty, accounts for Portofino’s appeal to artists and actors across the eras. The sense of old-school glamour that pervades the town, though, has its roots in Fellini’s stylish 1960 masterpiece La Dolce Vita.
Pleasing one’s senses is easy in this part of the world. Naturally, seafood is buonissimo here. But it tastes even better when discovered in a tiny cavern restaurant, such as Batti in Santa Margherita Ligure. Or, take a speedboat to the hidden cove of San Fruttuoso to enjoy fritto misto from Da Laura trattoria. Dine at wooden tables on the beach and gaze out at the cool ocean.
Activities to suit any appetites can be found in Portofino. Stroll among the lush green gardens that surround Belmond Hotel Splendido and you’ll be rewarded with the warm afternoon scent of lavender, olive trees and bougainvillea. Those seeking more energetic pursuits can scuba dive and kayak around the coast. Visitors wishing to simply bask in Portofino’s beauty can opt for a sunset cruise around the cove.