If you have never been to this glorious destination, you should definitely bare it in mind. A small, luxurious, lively place filled with art, history and beauty. In this post I will share with you my day in exploring the famous Portofino.
We started off in Vernazza, Cinque terre and travelled over to our next destination: Portofino. It was a very easy and quick transit; we took the train to Sestri Levante (after I decided to take the train in the opposite direction which delayed us by one hour). From Sestri Levante we waited 15 minutes for the coinciding train to Santa Margherita Ligure, from where we took a 15 minute boat ride (€6.50) to Portofino. We arrived just in time for lunch and the search for an authentic, economic restaurant began. We passed a couple of restaurants on the port that were charging around €60 for a plate of fish which we thought were a bit exaggerated, then we walked past a restaurant called Trattoria Tripoli. The menu looked good and the pricing was decent, so we sat down on a table with a beautiful portside view.
Portofino is in Genova, and the specialty of this region is Pesto, in fact in Italian we call it Pesto Genovese. This is because the ingredients around here are more accessible and grow in the proper climate.
We ordered pasta with vongole and pasta with pesto, beans and potatoes which we shared between the two of us. The pesto was incredible, it was smooth, delicate and incredibly tasty, and the beans complimented the sauce wonderfully! I can safely say it is the best option to go for. In fact the pesto was so good we spoke to the waiter about it and we asked for the recipe. But his answer was simple, the recipe is easy: basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and Parmesan. However it is not the quantity of the ingredients that count, but their authenticity. In fact pine nuts are best bought from Pisa, turkey and Portugal as they have more flavor in them, and basil is best when it has smaller leaves and home grown than supermarket. As for the olive oil, it mustn't be extra virgin or the taste will overpower the sauce.
Anyway after this delicious meal, including house wine and an extra bowl of pesto to scoop up with some bread (Italians call it: fare la scarpetta), our bill was only €39!
Time to walk off the pasta, so we followed up the hill that led to the church of San Giorgio, a beautiful, oval shaped temple built in 1154. Since its construction date it had to be rebuilt 4 times and unfortunately in the course of time it lost many prestigious artworks. From this church you have the best view over Portofino! We carried on our walk to the Castello Brown, an old fort which saw action against the Venetians, Savoyards, Sardinians, Austrians and fell to Napoleon. Following from this immense monument you can carry on walking upwards to reach the Faro (lighthouse) of Portofino, where you have a spectacular view over the sea.
On our way down back to the port we bought a ticket (€5) into the botanical gardens museum, a walk filled with artefacts that led to a beautiful panorama of Portofino.
As much as I would have loved to stay for longer it was time to leave and precede to our next destination Florence, so we made our way to the bus stop. We drank a quick coffee in this sweet bar called Gepi, which we were told it served the best ice cream in Portofino ! This café is located off Via Roma, the main street filled with designer stores and souvenir shops.
As a whole, Portofino is most valued for its beauty and breathtaking views. Not only you have the Italian coastline to look at but you are also surrounded by beautiful colourful houses, green hills, luxurious yachts and of course the infinite open sea.