Portofino is a small fishing village but there are an abundance of things to do there. Of course, there are some people that have always ‘been there and done that’ – no matter what the destination! They’ve wandered the gardens of Montallegro Sanctuary, had lunch on the quayside at Piazza Martiri Dell’Olivetta, gone kayaking along the Portofino coastline and have a wardrobe of T-shirts to prove it. There is nothing special about these people, other than that they have made the right choices to get to the good stuff, like renting with easyCar. So, escape the confines of the hotel pool and make sure you see all there is to see in Portofino with a set of your own wheels.
If tranquillity and peace are what you seek, then Portofino is the place for you. The village has a number of beautiful religious buildings in even more beautiful settings. As you meander towards the Italian coastal village in your hire car you will find the strikingly striped church of San Martino, which is definitely worth a pit stop before you head into the village proper. The church boasts a lavishly decorated interior with stained glass, mosaics, and a decorated ceiling. There are great views over the harbour and across to the Church of San Giorgio.
Rebuilt several times over the years, but most recently in the 1950s, the Church of San Giorgio is, in contrast, much more minimal. San Giorgio’s mustard coloured exterior is simple and relatively unadorned and this style is reflected in its stark white interior. Enjoy exploring the gardens, the cemetery, and the monochrome courtyard paved with a geometric design. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the vistas out over Portofino Bay and the Mediterranean sea beneath you.
A hour long drive from Portofino is the Montallegro Sanctuary at Rapallo. Catch a cable car from Rapallo and ascend into the clouds. Built in 1558 with a white Italian marble frontage, Montallegro Sanctuary makes for a peaceful and relaxing visit. The views of the sea and the mountains on the ride up are fantastic on a clear day and can also be enjoyed, once at the top, from the rear of the monastery itself. If you have made it to the back of the sanctuary be sure to hunt out the one of the excellent local restaurants, concealed down a path amongst the woodland. After you have explored the church, the gardens are very pleasant to walk in and nature feels very close at hand with the thick surrounding forest. Savour this little idyll before returning on a funicular or hiking back down the hill.
Outdoor Fun in Portofino
Kayaking in Portofino is an ideal activity for both peaceful paddlers or a mad splashers. Glide along the Italian coast and see the caverns, coves and creeks of this picturesque peninsula . Take kayaking tour to the secluded San Fruttuoso beach monastery, once frequented only by fishermen, and then refuel at one of the cove’s many restaurants. Armed with a kayak you can even venture up to Portofino National Park, something that other boats are not permitted to do due to the fact that the area’s marine life is protected. If you’re less of a fan of the structured approach, rent your kayaks instead and explore for yourselves. Another great way to see some of the Italian Riviera and to burn off some pent-up steam is by bike. Liguria, the crescent moon shaped area of Italian coastline, has a smooth cycling pathway that can be traversed by all the family. Look out at the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean as the coast’s fuchsia coloured flowers sway in the breeze created as you peddle past. Plenty of cycle hire points offer child seats, trikes and tandems, so even the littlest cyclists can get involved!
Al Fresco Eating
Portofino is one of those places that gives you a feeling of real decadence and no place more so than Piazza Martiri Dell’Olivetta. Lined with boutiques, designer shops and art galleries, and with its water studded with luxury mega yachts, you can find no better spot for a bite of lunch than this waterside piazza. The quayside is surrounded by red, green and yellow buildings decorated with frescos. The restaurants offer all the Italian classics along with traditional Ligurian fare and unmissable refresh seafood. Try Taverna del Marinaio for their friendly atmosphere or Da Puny for their unusual antipasto della casa and shrimp curry risotto. Portofino is home to Armami, Dolce and Gabbana during the summer months and the village has drawn celebrities and royalty to its shores for decades. So you never know, you might be having a coffee and pasta next to a superstar!
Portofino is great close up and superb from a distance. When it comes to views this little village has some to make your eyes boggle, and you needn’t go too far to find them either. Faro di Portofino is a lighthouse on the end of a promontory. Once you have climbed up to the top of the peninsula here are wonderful views back over Portofino and a restaurant bar to enjoy drinks, ice cream and light nibbles whilst admiring water. If you are still feeling full of zip then continue on your trek to Castello Brown. The walk itself is very pretty and the olive tree covered castle grounds are littered with perfect photo opportunities with the distant Portofino marina as a magnificent backdrop.
And there you go, one car, one amazing holiday and a load of things ticked off your bucket list that you can happily brag about on your return!