Window to the world: Portofino
With its breath-taking beaches, boutique shopping and delicious local cuisine, it's not hard to see why many consider Portofino to be the 'jewel of the Riviera'.
Let’s be clear, it’s not a secret, it’s not undiscovered and it’s not off the beaten track – but then neither is Harrods – and that is a destination that’s still very much worth a visit. The same applies to Portofino – this has long been the destination of choice on the Italian Riviera and boasts some of the finest hotels in the world; but just because it isn’t a secret, doesn’t make it any less glorious to visit.
A stunning melange of beaches, harbour, al fresco dining and boutique shopping – the element that truly binds Portofino’s fine offering together is that of lifestyle – and a glamorous lifestyle it is at that.
People-watching is by the far the most common pursuit in this tiny fishing village, as the ‘jewel of the Italian Riviera’ attracts many of the ‘beau monde’ to its glitzy offering of Hollywood glamour served with a generous twist of Genovese charm. During the day the notoriety of this peninsula attracts tourists from all walks of life, but owing to the premium prices that are inherent here, only those who have amassed a small fortune will be staying anywhere in the vicinity overnight.
If you truly want to experience the full package from Portofino, when it comes to accommodation, it has to be one of the Belmond hotels. The Belmond Splendido Mare and the Belmond Hotel Splendido are two of the most renowned hotels in the area – offering guests the choice of staying in the rugged hills and gazing down to the coast from breath-taking position of the Hotel Splendido, or staying close to the waterfront next to the Piazzetta with stunning views over the harbour from the Belmond Splendido Mare, which is a tranquil retreat that oozes luxury and Italian romantic glamour.
Belmond Hotel Splendido is a former Benedictine monastery, which offers the perfect blend of beauty, style, comfort and service: guests can swim and sunbathe by the pool, be pampered at the Spa or indulge in gourmet cuisine at La Terrazza Restaurant.
Unique experiences on offer from the hotel include romantic champagne sunset cruises aboard the hotel’s private boat and olive-oil tasting classes on the terrace.
Belmond also houses the Chuflay Bar & Restaurant, which offers both indoor and al fresco seating overlooking the Piazzetta and the harbour.
With the cuisine, service and ambience all excellent, this is a great place to ensure that your culinary experience of Portofino delivers on the rich indulgence that has come to define this place.
Shopping and eating are definitely the mainstay activities of this town, but should you have the urge to see a little more of the area, then you can hire a boat out to the bay of San Fruttuoso and take in the medieval abbey that has sunk into the sands of this tiny picturesque cove that is predominantly accessed by boat, or by foot for the hardier traveller.
Combining both heritage and beauty, this is a site that is managed by the Fondo per l’Ambiente Italiano (the Italian National trust equivalent).
Whether you come here to luxuriate in its sparkling beauty or to indulge in the finer things in life, Portofino is a must-see location that will rekindle your love of the Riviera and the allure that has become inextricably linked to a bygone era of elegance and high society.
All images courtesy of The Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino