Written September 5th, 2012 – in-flight Venice to NYC
There are three main ways to get from Santa Margharita to Portofino (assuming you don’t have a private yacht which is how the rich and famous make their entrance): bus, moped or on the water taxi. Us: we hiked. We had read that the scenic two-ish hour hike is a relaxing and unique way to link these two towns, so we went for it.
Our way out of Santa Margarita was uphill, on stairs, through houses and gardens scattered all along the hillside. We stopped climbing when we reached a hilltop church, and started making our way between lookouts over the sparking Mediterranean. You probably already guessed it: it was hot. We were both soaked practically while we were still in town! The hike was totally worth it though. We enjoyed seeing the towns from above, and watching the yachts get bigger and bigger the nearer to Portofino we got.
We stopped briefly at Paraggi Beach, but decided that the 6 foot wide strip of public beach was not what we were looking for. 100 euros for a spot on the beach? I don’t think so.
The town of Portofino was absolutely stunning. I know I took far too many pictures, but every angle was perfectly lit and everything so colorful and postcard worthy. Thank goodness for patient husbands and large memory cards!
Speaking of memory cards, this whole trip Matt and I have each been armed with our recording device of choice: me with the camera and him with our new camcorder. Between the two we have been armed with two 16G cards, two 8Gs, one 4G and three 2G cards. I am sure Portofino too up almost 2G alone. Good thing we had the iPad as our on-the-go hard drive!
When we arrived in Portofino we looked like drowned rats…quite literally. All our clothes were soaked straight through. Sweaty and disgusting did not really seem to fit in with the posh nd expensive clientele at the waterfront places (nor did we expect our budget to go with their menus) so we selected a more relaxed looking place off the main drag. We were swayed by a tasty looking pizza place…that also had…wait for it…AIR CONDITIONING! And a table right smack dab in front of it. Perfect! It was a great choice too…pizza with an arugala/shrimp/bean salad, accompanied by some ice cold sparkling wine. Perfect for two hot, tired hikers. When we told our waiter that we hiked to Portofino from Santa Margharita he was astounded…apparently people don’t hike it in the summer (which may explain why we saw no one else one the whole trail…) We felt pretty acomplished 🙂 To us, it made our time in Portofino that much more memorable.
After lunch we climbed up to the castle on the far side 0f town, and got more stunning views of Portofino. We took more pictures (big surprise), but then eventually made our way down to the waterfront again to check out ferry times. What we stumbled upon was the boat ramp…or what we called it (and realized most locals did to) the cement beach. There were locals swimming and sunning themselves so we joined in. It was glorious swimming in the crystal clear water (way cleaner than the water in Santa Margharita!) and lounging in the sun after a long day of walking and hiking. We stayed till 5 and hopped on the ferry back to Santa Margharita.
The boat ride back to Santa Margarita was very relaxing (much faster and cooler than walking too!) and beautiful. We passed by the bazillion dollar yachts (one with its own three deck waterside and fleet of 6 jet skis) and back into the cozy port where we were staying.
Our two “must haves” in Liguria were pesto and clams. Since the previous night our pesto was excellent, the latter was my mission for the night. After being turned away from an apparently “reserved” table at one place, then getting up from the empty ABBA blasting second choice we found a promising looking outdoor restaurant near the waterfront with both clams and pesto on the menu: da Emilio. This place was packed and the service was quick. The food: excellent. I ordered the spaghetti with clams and Matt had gnocchi with pesto. Both were excellent, fresh and exactly what we wanted. I would eat there again in a heartbeat!
After sweating all day and being in the sun, we figured we deserved gelato and ate our cones under the stars on the boardwalk. Perfect end to the day.