Celebrated in Guy de Maupassant’s stories as “the place where fishing boats sleep,” Portofino is the prettiest and most exclusive destination in the Italian Riviera. An idyllic resort just south of Genoa, the beautiful waterfront town sparkles beneath lush hills, while pastel-hued houses with wooden shutters line the cliff edges that drop into the aquamarine waters below. Everything about Portofino suggests leisure and beauty, and for years it’s been a favorite bolthole among celebrities, millionaires and fashionistas for its sublime beauty and cultural elegance. Beyond the mesmerizing Mediterranean geography, the tiny fishing village hides chic restaurants, designer boutiques and smart hotels within its winding cobblestone streets. Side by side, these two worlds of luxury and tradition create an atmosphere that’s completely entrancing and surreal.
Where to Stay
Set amidst unbelievably stunning terraced gardens on a steep hillside, Belmond Hotel Splendido is very well-located for fully enjoying the beautiful Italian Rivera – close both to the sea as well as charming shops, cafes, restaurants, and the buzzing Italian town life. Furthermore, you can expect a familiar sight – some of the most noteworthy super yachts regularly moor here. The spacious hotel has been welcoming guests since the very beginning of the 20th century and gained its most notable clientele in the 60s during the Dolce Vita.
Old-world charm and splendid glamour still steep through the seams at this wonderful property. As with most grand-style hotels in the region, the interiors are kept very traditional without feeling dated. Beautiful and well-crafted antique furniture is complemented with a neutral color palette. Marble bathrooms feel luxurious and spacious, and all have tubs. Almost all of the 70 rooms and suites have views of the sea, which is definitely a huge plus as it’s not always the case with the 5-star properties in the region.
Check out our Luxury Hotel Guide for the Italian Riviera for the region’s top-rated accommodation options.
When it comes to charter destinations, the splendor of the Italian Riviera is unrivaled. From the pretty pastels of Portofino to the lemon-scented shores of the Cinque Terre, la dolce vita is there to be enjoyed both on deck and ashore. Built by Admiral Yachts, the 164.04ft (50m) Ouranos was named the most silent yacht ever certified by RINA – making it a swift and serene choice for those wanting to drift along the Italian coastline in style.
The vessel boasts six spacious cabins, meaning that 12 guests can mingle without treading on each other’s toes. Ouranos is also one of the best superyachts for entertaining with five separate lounging spaces and a swim-up bar on the sundeck. The three-deck yacht is a vision of tasteful minimalism with light and airy spaces, warm teak woods and the very best in Italian fabrics to highlight its heritage.
Where to Dine
Portofino is also an excellent foodie destination with a great mix of family-run authentic Italian kitchen style restaurants as well as smarter, contemporary joints tailored to the jet-set crowd. A timeless favorite among celebrities and locals alike, Ristorante Puny is one of the most iconic eateries in the entire Italian Riviera. This colorful restaurant sits in a prime position right on the Piazzetta in front of the harbor and continues to retain an authentic feel from the town’s days as a tiny fishing village. Simply put, it’s a landmark in the Italian Riviera and makes for an unforgettable culinary experience, especially if you manage to snag one of just 15 tables on the exclusive outdoor terrace.
Immersed in the sights of the harbor, as well as the passing parade of people, Ristorante Puny makes for an al fresco dining experience like no other. On the inside, there are a few more tables that are surrounded by a cozy and elegant atmosphere. The seafood is fresh and the lengthy menu highlights several handmade Ligurian dishes including the divine pappardelle pasta with shrimp and topped with tomato and pesto sauce.
Check out our Restaurant Guide to the Italian Riviera for an expanded list of recommendations.
What to Do
Sitting on its own peninsula, Portofino’s endless good looks stem from the beautiful waterfront and lush hillsides, while the lovely beaches tend to attract the fashionable, glamorous type. Cruising up to the harbor is a charming contrast of old and new with quaint wooden fishing boats bobbing along next to fully-kitted super-yachts, and local crafts shops sharing space along the front with big international brand names like Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Yves Saint Laurent. The treasures that lie within in the clear waters are also worth exploring either by snorkeling or diving. The latter is most enjoyable in the marine park where there are caverns to swim through and plenty of pretty, colorful fish, as well as the famous sunken bronze statue, Christ of the Abyss by Gudi Gallenti, standing tall with head and hands raised skyward.
There are plenty of cultural sites nearby too. A beautiful walk up from the harbor along a path known as Salita San Giorgio leads to the impressive San Giorgio church. After which you can continue round the headland to Castello Brown, once a stronghold and now a perfect viewpoint to admire the overwhelming beauty of the surroundings. Take a bottle of rose in your bag for a romantic sunset gazing dreamily into the endless expanse of the sky and the ocean. Evening in Portofino is perhaps the most magical time of the day, when the air’s warm and buzzing with crickets. Join the locals for ice cream at one of the stalls on the Piazzetta after dinner before heading to the most trendy of floating bars, La Gritta, which sits on a pontoon covered with cushions and exudes a sophisticated, laid-back vibe.
What to Pack
Between cultural sights, fabulous beaches and elegant lounges, Portofino is a place where you’ll certainly want to come fashionably prepared, yet also comfortable for the coastal exploration. If you’re the chilled-out traveler, much like the Italians, a laid-back style would suit you just fine – and these Posse Solace Pleated Cotton-Linen Pants do just the trick. Cut from a luxe blend of cotton and linen, the casual pair has a wide-leg silhouette for a chic and effortless look. Add to the mix this Pamela Card Elephant Gallant Amulet 24K Gold-Plated Necklace for a dash of elegance as you’re roaming the streets.
The guys can follow a similar look with this Massimo Alba Button-Down Shirt. From seaside dining to sunset wine tastings, the laid-back tailoring, lightweight materials and timeless style mean the shirt is ideal for any and all activities along the Italian Riviera. No Mediterranean suitcase is complete without a cool pair of shades – and these Gucci Square-Frame Sunglasses check all the boxes.