Portofino – Italian Riviera’s dolphin paradise!

The classiest gem of the Italian Riviera, Portofino is a playground of the rich and famous with enchanting tales attached, and yet retains a rare, pristine charm.

If you have ever wanted to indulge in la dolce vita (I cannot imagine anyone who hasn’t dreamt of a life of self-indulgence and indolence!), you must visit Portofino once in your lifetime. It is another matter that one visit is bound to lead to many more…

As we stepped off our cruise ship onto ferries that took us to this picturesque Italian fishing village, we realised we had never seen such crystalline turquoise waters, such spectacular colorful houses clustered around the harbor, nor such a stunning bay as we were approaching at some speed. Portofino (Latin Portus Delphini=Dolphin Harbor) is the name that Romans gave this beautiful gem because of the numerous dolphins in the Ligurian Sea. The village is on the Italian Riviera, a part of Liguria, the crescent shaped region in North-West Italy. This charming fishing village is a world-famous resort that has magically retained its untouched charm, famed not just for its stunning harbor, but also for its artistic and celebrity visitors.

No wonder this is where, as recently as on May 22, Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker chose to have their wedding — an extravagant ceremony sponsored by Dolce & Gabbana. While the ceremony took place in a medieval castle in Portofino with a beautiful view of the gulf, the reception took place at Villa Olivetta owned by Italian fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. We arrived in Portofino exactly two weeks later.

Get off at this sleepy Italian village and you are immediately engulfed by a sense of timelessness, a deep need to let go and lean in to a simple, slower pace of life. We dropped the idea of ​​visiting Santa Margherita Ligure or Cinque Terre, the highly recommended string of centuries-old villages further along the Italian Riviera coastline, or even of checking out the Leaning Tower at Pisa, which is just about an hour’s boat ride away. This was it. We would soak up all that Portofino has to offer in the limited time we had – the sun and sea, the rocky climbs, churches, and castles perched on hilltops, and the general milieu of a happy listlessness.

The first sight that accosted us was of the numerous trattorias and the chic bistros overlooking the Ligurian Sea with its fishing boats and ferries alongside a couple of yatchs (that surely belonged to Hollywood celebrities) bobbing peacefully in the luxuriant waters. You can choose to browse through the fashion boutiques and enjoy Italian food and service at the trattorias before or after your walk around the town. We decided to walk around and save for later the food and wine as we gazed lazily into the beautiful Mediterranean distance, absorbing the charming Italian culture, cuisine and climate. The first boutique I walked into was – but of course Dolce & Gabana! I fell for the first dress that my eyes alighted on – a dreamy, flowy one-shoulder graceful outfit. It costs 2000 Euros. I politely declined the friendly shop assistant’s offer to try it on and walked on to the sprawling rust-colored Alexander McQueen store and the numerous charming boutiques offering the choicest dresses and baubles.

What to eat in Portofino
When it comes to eating, you will be spoilt for choice of course! The Italian pizza and pasta cannot be missed, nor can the world-famed Gelato, available at numerous outlets, each proud of their own offering. But if you want to go really local, get yourself the Focaccia al Formaggio, the local Ligurian bread and eat it topped with cheese, herbs, tomatoes, onions and pesto. The pesto is a must, for this is where it originated and the locals are very proud of it, making it with locally grown basil, cheese, local olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts. A crepe-like snack called Farinata is another favourite, as are mussels. The local white wine is a great choice to round off your day in Portofino!

Celebrities who love Portofino
Portofino itself has just about 400 inhabitants. There isn’t much to do in Portofino, except wander around and admire the colorful homes, charming setting and happy bustle of the town. You may chance upon the beautiful vacation homes of Giorgio Armani or of the Italian fashion-designer duo Dolce and Gabbana. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana bought Villa Olivetta from the original owners, the Italian family Trossi Fracassi. The former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi rented this villa as his summer residence for more than a decade. The Armani villa, Castel San Giorgio, is just 50 meters away.

What to do
Walk around the central vista and make your way up an incline towards the San Giorgio church, admiring views of the bay as you move along. At the church, pause to look at the peaceful cemetery and take a picture of the amazing view of the sea relentlessly beating against the base of the tall, rugged cliffs. Castello Brown, a 15th century castle is beyond the church; we didn’t go inside but it boasts the highest viewpoint of the bay and some amazing luxuriant foliage. Beyond this is the Portofino Lighthouse with more stunning views.

What adds to the buzz is the activity in the water. The more adventurous love Portofino for some of Italy’s most famous beaches, for the diving and other water activities, and for its hiking trails that take you through forests full of wildflowers and Olive trees.

There is something extremely liberating about the Italian vibe with its climate and cuisine. Even a day in Portofino left us feeling uplifted and with memories that tug us back for another holiday in the enchanting village, when we can perhaps explore Cinque Ferre and all the other Italian gems along the Riviera… Till then, Ciao, Ci vediamo dopo!

Guy de Maupassant on Portofino!
I cannot leave this out! Portofino enchanted Guy de Maupassant in 1889 as much as it captivates us today! This is what he wrote —
“And here, all of a sudden, you discover a hidden cove, of olive and chestnut trees. A small village, Portofino, spreads out like an arc of the moon around this calm basin. We slowly cross the narrow passage that joins this magnificent natural harbor to the sea, and we enter the amphitheater of the houses, surrounded by a forest of a mighty and fresh green, and everything is reflected in the mirror of the calm waters, where some boats seem to sleep. fishing”.

Interesting fact

Lord Carnarvon, who discovered the tomb of the famous Egyptian boy-king Tutankhamon, lived in Portofino in Villa Altachiara. As a result Portofino is said to still live the ‘Curse of the Pharaohs’ for disturbing their eternal rest. Some years after his discovery, Lord Carnarvon died of a mosquito bite on his face that became infected. Years later in 2001, Italian Countess Francesca Vacca Agusta, owner of Vlla Altachiara, died by falling on the sea cliffs under the villa. Many others associated with uncovering of the tomb, suffered a similar tragic fate.

You can now listen to O-zone podcast on Gaana, Google, Spotify and Amazon Music

Spotify

Gaana

Google

Amazon Music



Linkedin


Disclaimer

Views expressed above are the author’s own.



END OF ARTICLE


  • System ‘bull-dazed’: As bulldozers roll on, higher courts almost seem to be in a daze. They must respond

  • While India is busy burning trains and buses over army recruitment scheme, China quietly rolls out a new aircraft carrier that wows west

  • Modi & BJP at crossroads: Post-Nupur, tensions between party base’s wish list & GoI’s policy agenda are sharper

  • Baptism by fire: Army pension needs pruning. But Agnipath protests show future soldiers’ anxiety needs better responses

  • India needs Agnipath, not pensionpath

  • Murmu & BJP’s subalterns: It’s not the Adivasi vote, which BJP already gets, but the party’s larger political narrative around the marginalized that explains its choice of presidential candidate

  • Bulldozers only stop with a stay: In Prayagraj & elsewhere, demolitions without due process are illegal. Courts must intervene forcefully

  • English-Vinglish, Hindi-Shindi: India doesn’t need a national language. Plus, Hindi is growing & English is no longer elicit

  • Being presidential truly: 21st-century India needs a president who will be democracy’s conscience keeper

  • Flaming question: Why is it so easy to burn trains? Because effective RPF, local police coordination is missing

.

Leave a Comment