The Summer Guide: Portofino
We begin our vocational guide in the beautiful village of Portofino. Considered one of the most enchanting and astonishing scenic landscapes in the world, Portofino is located in Genoa, on the Italian Riviera. Offering breathtaking views entwined with historic architecture and culture, this pleasant fisherman village continues to captivate the heart of all its visitors. Here’s why...
Portofino is known for its picturesque scenery and magical atmosphere which is no more prominent than on the popular two-hour excursion to San Fruttuoso, a thirteenth-century Benedictine abbey poised in the sand of a pretty cove. The contrast between the deafening tranquillity of the Abbey’s interior with the Italian beach culture surrounding San Fruttuosso is truly unforgettable.
Frequently visited by hiking enthusiasts is the excluded beach of Paraggi. A combination of gorgeous emerald waters and astonishing red corals has created the most tranquil and romantic surrounding. This location suits couples more than families however anyone with an appreciation for elegance will enjoy their time in Paraggi. Hidden between Santa Margherita and Portofino is the beautiful beach of Niasca. Surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation, the secluded gem is perfect for a relaxing morning swim. The east facing beach is the number one spot for divers and kayaking excursions.
Not only has Portofino been blessed with such beauty, the Italian village is grounded by its own cultures and history. Located in the oldest part of Portofino, San Martino Church is home to Anton Maria Maragliano’s wooden masterpiece, Deposition of Christ. Built in the 12th century and modified in the 19th, the Romanesque style church also boasts works from the likes of Tomaso Roccatagliata. Another architectural wonder to visit is San Giorgio Church. According to a commemorative stone inside the building, San Giorgio was first built in 1154. Completely destroyed during World War II, the church guards relics of Saint George, Patron Saint of Portofino.
If you feel like shopping and your bank account allows, surrounding the small harbour, to the delight of fashionistas, are numerous Italian and international luxury brands. The likes of Gucci, Armarni, Louis Vuitton and Dolce & Gabbanna all have their own stores located in the heart of the village. If you want to hit the ground running, the main fashion streets are Molo Umberto I, Calata Marconi, Via Roma and Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta. Not only will you find the global luxurious brands mentioned above, you will also encounter many independent designers, jostling to beat the big labels.
If you opt to eat in Portofino, rather than the more affordable Santa Margherita, Freedoms recommendation would be to go to Puny. Hosting the likes of Gianni Agnelli to Beyonce, you can expect traditional Ligurian seafood cuisine combined with courteous customer service. At Puny, it’s more about the scenery and atmosphere than what is on the plate. If this is a bit out of budget, head over to La Locanda di Colomba in Santa Margherita. Sitting back from the stunning sea-line, the restaurant can cater for all needs; however meat is the main act here. If you like your wine, scenery and good food, this is definitely one to be considered.
Alternatively, visit La Terrazza where you can enjoy delicious food, magnificent views and romantic live music. Be sure to ask the manager to book you a table near to the live piano; Vladi always likes to get his customers involved, whether its singing covers of your favourite song or letting you have a go on the tambourine and maracas, the night is a romantic yet lively delight. If after all of this, you still don’t want to call it a night, take a walk down to the harbour and enjoy the ‘best gelato’ in the village at Gelateria Gepi Mare. Offering a wide selection of flavours, from sorbets to gelato’s, Freedom’s must eat has to be the Pistachio gelato.
For a luxurious stay, book in at the Belmond Hotel Splendido. In an unrivalled location overlooking the romantic Portofino harbour with panoramic views of the Ligurian Sea, the Splendido is located at the top of a steep hill. The hotel operates a free shuttle bus service - perfect for those wanting to avoid the strenuous climb. Opening its doors in 1902, the hotel has seen Winston Churchill, Ava Gardner and Marlon Brando visit the 16th century Benedictine monastery. With prices starting around £400 per night, this may seem expensive however we assure you the experience is worth it. If you’re looking for something slightly more affordable take a look into Hotel Argentina. Located just back from Paraggi Beach, this hotel is perfect for people looking for a quiet retreat and an authentic Ligurian experience. Minutes walk away from the most beautiful swimming beaches, Hotel Argentina offers a simple interior design in a desirable location; starting at £69 per night, this affordable alternative definitely will not disappoint.
If you’re one to be active on your holiday and diving intrigues you, there is no better place to start than Portofino. The mysteriousness and enchanted aspects of the whole village is only amplified by the hidden gem lying deep in the ocean. The ‘Christ of The Abyss’, a statue sculpted by Guido Galletti in respect of pioneer Italian diver Dario Gonzatti can be found 10m under water just off of San Fruttuoso Beach. Follow the link here to book yourself onto daily diving trips; novice or master, Portofino Divers account for all levels of experience.
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