San Remo Harbor
San Remo, prettily nicknamed “La Citta dei Fiori” (the City of Flowers) is Portofino’s charming, lesser-known little sister favoured for her sandy beaches, classic good looks and old-world grandeur. Sailing is an important part of the city’s heritage, having played host to important and high profile regattas since the beginning of the 1900s; now the Yacht Club still celebrates seamanship, with some of the world’s most beautiful boats taking up residence year round, thanks to the balmy climate.
The pride of the town is the very aptly named Royal Hotel, inaugurated in 1872 and still easily one of the most dazzling luxurious resorts in on the Italian Riviera. This opulent, Belle Epoue residence overlooks the shimmering sea with a terraced restaurant, Il Giardino for romantic candlelit dinners, wellness centre and a spectacular seawater swimming pool designed by Gio Ponti in tropical paradise of fragrant blossoms and palm trees. The rooms are uniquely decorated, the most gorgeous being the Sissi Suite named after Empress Sissi (Elisabeth of Austria) with a large private balcony and plunge pool. Housed in an impressive 19th century building, Hotel de Sanremo is equally enchanting if not slightly lacking in the lively glamour of its bigger neighbour. The interiors are elegantly classical, bright and spacious, with each floor of the hotel characterized by a dominant colour (ochre, pink, blue and green), whilst the suites are uniquely designed to commemorate artists connected to the local area.
With dozens of fancy restaurants and trattoria’s San Remo is a gastronome’s delight. Paolo e Barbara is amongst the most polished, conveniently located a few steps from the famed casino in the centre of the town. The chef, Paolo Masieri’s cooking style is regional, rich and flavoursome. Try one of his Ligurian specialities, prawns flamed in sanremo or baby squid with green peas cream and chanterelles. The small, family run trattoria, Piccolo Mondo is more humble in appearance and a favourite with the locals, serving generous plates of exquisite pasta slathered in pesto (the local specialty) and a particularly outstanding octopus stew amongst other hearty delights. Else return to your yacht for on board dining under the stars or take picnic hamper filled with delicacies from a local deli – warm breads, cured meats and wine – to one of the hidden coves nestled along the coastline.
During the day wander round the maze like streets of the old town, fill your arms with carnations, roses and daffodils from the flower market and visit the ancient, dome-topped Russian Orthodox church before climbing to Piazza Castello for splendid views of the ocean dotted with yacht sails gently blowing in the warm, Mediterranean breeze. There are plenty of opportunities for golfing too with two stunning courses located close by the town. Circolo Golf degli Ulivi is the most breath-taking, nestled admist the olive and mimosa trees on a hilltop above San Remo, whilst Golf Club Garlenda (a 40 minute drive away) enjoys the backdrop of the Maritime Alps.
All evenings in San Remo end (and begin) in the impressive Art Nouveau building of Casinò Sanremo. Whilst roulette is what the Casinò’s best known for, the ancient walls also house the Teatro dell’Opera (where music events and festivals are held), a restaurant, cocktail bar and rooftop garden (also serving food and drink accompanied by live music). The dress code is strictly sophisticated, with jackets and ties requested at the gaming tables, helping to preserve the enchanting atmosphere of nostalgic glamour. If you’re still awake when the sun begins to rise and birds start to sing, stroll down the water front promenade for breakfast on board your yacht, enjoying the serene calm and freshness of the early morning air.