Sunday 5 October 2014


Just over an hour's drive along the Ligurian coast towards Genoa from the rugged and remote Cinque Terre gets you to the heart of the Italian Riviera.

Driving through beautiful Rapallo to Portofino, the views of intense blue-green sea are still spectacular, but peeling tumble-down village houses are traded for elegant mansions and fishing boats for expensive yachts.

Portofino, on a rocky promontory overlooking a protected cove, is a holiday home for some of Italy's elite and a favourite spot to park luxury yachts. 

But its basic appearance has apparently changed very little over the last half century, probably due to the intervention of powerful people who like to keep it exclusive and discreet.

The harbour is lined with heavily flowered, terraced, shuttered apartments, discreetly tucked-in designer-brand shops and chic restaurants, all with views to the ongoing entertainment of this busy little port. 

Topping the hillside that overlooks Portofino is the legendary Hotel Splendido (just visible top left in the pic below), where film stars and politicians have stayed since the days of Churchill, Bogart and Bacall.

We walked all the way up a winding footpath from the harbour to reach it, rewarded with sights like this on the way.

to have a cold prosecco on the garden terrace of the Splendido, and reflect on how the very rich live.

Portofino, September 2014

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