The small, elegant harbor of Portofino in Liguria has long been a haven for the rich and famous. Sapphire colored waters rimmed by pastel-painted buildings makes this fishing village and holiday resort magnetic. Known during the early Roman era as Portus Dolphini, attributed to the many dolphins on the coast during that time, Portofino has been a sought-after playground for centuries. Steven Spielberg, Chris Martin, Rihanna, Kate Moss, and Russian billionaire Andry Melnichenko, among others, have often been spotted relaxing on their yachts or enjoying the small town ambiance. Read more →
While driving along the Italian Riviera between Genoa to the north and Portovenere to the south, I was greatly entertained and delighted by the brightly painted villas along the way. Typical of the area, many are dressed in colorful window embellishments, curlicues, and even some with painted on shutters. Pastel colors dominated the coastline and were lovingly as well as artistically kept in immaculate condition.
Jump inside and take a drive with me on a lovely day along the Italian Riviera.
This Riviera di Levante, (“the coast of the rising sun”), another name for this part of the Riviera, is an experience that i’ve found a joy to relive. Pastels, artwork, terraced hillsides of olives, fruits and vines, and intoxicating ocean views all weave together a very pleasant place to linger.
If you have enjoyed this colorful escape to one of Italy’s beautiful landscapes, please like below and pass it on for someone else to enjoy:)
Portifino….the prettiest and priciest village on the Italian Riviera. Small in size, it draws huge crowds, among them some of the rich and wealthy. Visitors stroll the waterfront, watching the huge yachts come and go, hoping to catch of glimpse of a celebrity. The small village charm and ritzy class is the substance of dreams for most….if only for a day!
I spent one day here while exploring the beautiful Italian Riviera just a few weeks ago. The narrow two-lane road leading into Portofino offered no place to park. Motorcycles were lined up against the tall rock walls in single file, barely clearing the flow of traffic. I pulled into the only parking garage I saw. It worked and I found a space. But I knew I was in posh-land when I saw that my parking would cost me 5.50 euros per hour.
Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabanna own holiday homes in Portofino and are occasionally spotted around town. Steven Spielberg and Kylie Minogue are also known to hobnob around the area. In fact, not long ago Monica Belushi shot a commercial in Portofino for Dolce and Gabanna, introducing their limited-addition Light Blue fragrance, Dreaming in Portofino. There is no doubt that Portofino is a popular destination in Italy for the jet set and the affluent, the film stars and fashion moguls.
From the harbor, there is a steep set of stairs that lead up to Brown Castle. This photo was taken partway up to the top, giving a different view of the harbor and a tall sailboat in the background. Sadly, the Castle will have to wait for next time to be explored as time was running short.
Yachts over one hundred feet long lounge on the bay waters that sparkle like diamonds when the sun catches it just right. Polished to perfection, they appeared to be the ultimate in glamour. As I stood on the boardwalk gazing over a couple of them, I wondered who they belonged to. It takes a staff of able-bodied crew to manage and care for these yachts on a daily basis.
Smaller boats weave and bob about the harbor like a broken string of pearls, scattered in different directions. Most of them are fishing boats, but some are rubber dingys that motor about the waters. A few sailboats stood off in the distance, tall and stately.
This rhino was hanging on the waterfront by the boats. Not sure of the significance, but it did catch my eye. I was holding my breath as I passed under him, hoping he wouldn’t fall on me.
More than one box-like window in front of a jewelry shop on the boardwalk had exhibits like this one. I must have stared for hours. They shimmer and shine so exquisitely. I looked for prices, of course, but saw none attached to them. No bargain prices here….
This waterfront restaurant had one of these delicately painted ceramic eggs on each table as a decoration piece. Many shops on the Riviera have hand-painted plates and bowls like these, but this was the first time I saw one shaped like an egg.
Gorgeous day on the Portofino waterfront. The crowds had thinned out so it was a perfect time to take a picture. I loved the tall pastel houses hugging the base of the hill by the water and those clinging toward the top.
This ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ stood high above everyone, barking his heart out. We all just kept smiling up at him and taking pictures. No one took him seriously, poor guy. But I was glad to see him behind a fence. Not the kind of fella you want to run into in a dark alley….
This is a towering villa that caught my eye. The driveway leading up to it is lined with a few interesting statues. I would love to have walked it, but would have felt like an intruder. The view from this villa must be stunning.
My time was short in Portofino, but the small quaint village presence left me feeling enriched. My senses had feasted on beauty and luxury, and though I can’t be there I can take and cherish the memories and visual eloquence with me for a lifetime.
My last post left you in the midst of thunderstorms on the Italian Riviera. But like a worrisome story with a good ending, the next morning was beautiful! All around me lay clear evidence of a rainstorm that had swept away all the old debris and polished my earthly surroundings with a new freshness.
I drove from Chiavari north through the towns of Santa Margherita, Portofino and Camogli. Following are some photos of the stunning Riviera in all its glory….
“And from then on I bathed in the Poem of the Sea, steeped with stars and foamy as milk….” Arthur Rimbaud
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
– Mark Twain
Observing a kayak on glowing amber waters off the coast of Amalfi one evening made me think of Homer, Greece’s epic poet of antiquity. He described the Mediterranean as having wine-dark seas, but he was also blind. This evening, however, the usual cool blue waters gave way to a brilliant, fiery orange.
Paddling over the often-visual underwater ruins of ancient Roman and Greekcivilizations is enough to excite anyone. Words often fail to express a kayaking day over the Bay of Naples, down the Amalfi Coast, or the many other crystalline waters off the shores of Italy.
This September, I will be exploring the wonders of Italy again for three weeks. Sea Kayaking is on my must-do list. Drifting by hidden grottos, dipping into caves, paddling through volcanic archways and observing castles and fortresses on the rocky mainland as I drift by is an experience I just can’t pass up.To see Italy from the water will be like getting to know it all over again.
The Island of the Sirens (la Sireneuses) is an archipelago of tiny islands off the Amalfi Coast of Italy between the Isle of Capri and 6 miles SW of Positano. Kayaking throughout these ancient mythical islands is breathtaking. Made up of three main islands, mythical sirens are believed to have inhabited them. They sang or played the lyre and flute, and bedeviled anyone happening to hear them. Strabo, a 1st century BC geographer, would warn you to plug your ears and avoid crashing your kayak on the rocky coast. Go ahead and explore their secret hideaways along magical shores, but be careful!
Explore the coastline by kayak between Portofinoand Cinque Terre on the turquoise Ligurian Sea. The subtle play of light on the colors of the landscape is spellbinding. Harbors of bobbing boats, homes that cling to rugged cliffs, vineyards and olive trees that dot the terraced hillsides envelope you as your kayak glides by. Coves and promontories provide enticing exploration moments. Sunlight gives way to the shadows of rocky outcrops.
Tofino Expeditionsoffers kayaking tours from the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre.Top-rated by National Geographic Adventureand an established sea-kayaking outfitter for 25 years, they also offer an 11 day excursion by kayak combined with some great on-land adventures.
Amalfi Kayak provides excellent local knowledge and insight into the area along with Kayak rentals and expeditions. If you like to support local business, as I do, this is a great option. They offer customized itineraries based upon your interests, time available and level of skill.