Charming and colorful, Portofino is picturesque and continues to be one of the most photographed villages along Liguria’s coast. Once a hideaway for illicit trysts and paparazzi dodging movie stars, Portofino has long been a popular destination for the rich and famous arriving by yachts or in sleek sports cars. A place also to be seen—cutting a bella figura—Portofino is where Princess Grace of Monaco, Greta Garbo and Frank Sinatra were often seen sipping cocktails; Richard Burton proposed to Elizabeth Taylor; and Humphrey Bogart wooed Lauren Bacall. In the 1950s and 60s film stars flocked to Portofino. Now a celebrity Mecca, the woods behind the tall and colorful houses that curve along the bay are dotted with secluded villas of the rich and famous. Romantic and affluent, Portofino’s aura and charm has been known to influence people in interesting ways. Legend has it that actor Rex Harrison was having a drink with the Duke of Windsor when he suddenly excused himself to buy cigarettes. Apparently he caught a glimpse of actress Kay Kendall and never returned to his seat.
I’m not-so-rich and famous (my family of three did not arrive to ritzy Portofino by yacht or fancy car)…but nevertheless, I did enjoy the essence of this tiny coastal village during a sunny, relaxing and peaceful afternoon. Although there’s really not that much to actually do in Portofino, it’s not the kind of place you can appreciate (or should experience) if in a hurry. It’s a place to leisurely stroll around the small harbor, browse at the pricey boutiques, or stop for a drink at a nice café and watch boats carrying tourists in and out of the turquoise colored Ligurian sea.
For dinner we chose a nice restaurant with a terrace and beautiful view across the harbor. My son, not yet a year old, was happy to people-watch, point out pigeons and giggle, and wave ciao to strangers stopping by to say hello to a happy bambino. He even impressed a few ladies by pressing his little open hand to mouth to blow a bacio.
He’s been so alert and observant and has had so much fun here that it makes me a bit sad to know that he won’t retain memories of his first trip to Italy. However, I’m still happy that he’s here and hope his experience in a new country, listening to a new language, eating new foods, etc., will not only add to, but also strengthen the foundation from which his character continues to grow. When he’s older, together we’ll revisit photos, I’ll share my memories and hopefully he’ll be inspired to return to Italy to create his own memories and who knows, perhaps return to Portofino…maybe next time by yacht!