Portofino. The name conjures up images of romance, gorgeous scenery and a boat filled harbor. It did not disappoint (at least on the gorgeous scenery and boats) but it was crowded even in September, not the busiest season. On this day of our vacation we celebrated Augie’s birthday with a day trip to that famous port that was on all our “must see” lists.
Because this was the day of the train worker strike, we took the bus from Camogli to Santa Margherita. This would have been a short 4 minute train ride, but the bus trip was slightly longer at about 25 minutes. The views however, from the ridgeline above both Camogli and Santa Margherita were wonderful. We would have missed that if we had taken the train. At 1.80 Euros it was a good deal.
Santa Margherita is quite a bit larger than Camogli. The waterfront area is lined with beautifully painted buildings, statues, parks and piers, with a feeling of hustle and bustle as cars, buses and pedestrians all compete for the same stretch of concrete. Meanwhile, Christoforo Colombo towers over it all, pointing towards the west? We walked the waterfront before boarding a ferry for the 15 minute cruise to Portofino.
Cruising into Portofino is indeed lovely with private mansions clinging to the cliffs, sailboats bobbing on the sparkling water and the colorful harbor looking just as you expect it. The crowds were a bit much, but after disembarking from the ferry, we followed Teresa’s rule of finding a lunch spot off the beaten path and ended up at a quiet pizzeria on a side street. Lunch was very good and we had a chance to rest and relax.
After our lunch we walked along the backside of the port and found the spiaggia pubblica (public beach). Back again to the harbor and we started the climb to the Castle Brown for the best and classic view of Portofino. It is a spectacular view, and the castle was beautiful. What a lovely spot for a private home.
Having walked the entire area, and not wanting to shop at the expensive boutiques, we hopped the 4 pm ferry back to Santa Margherita. As we waited for the bus back to Camogli, we watched a medieval show on the waterfront. Bagpipers played, maidens danced and knights dueled in front of a delighted crowd.
Back on the standing room only bus and separated from my travel companions, my nearest neighbor (a friendly elderly Italian man) tried to communicate with me. One of the few phrases I have down pat is “non capisco”. He laughed and smiled at my response and asked “Duetsche?” That is the second time someone’s first guess at my country of origin was Germany. I smiled and said “Svenska.” (I thought “what the hell, I’m not talking with anyone so who’s going to know?”) He nodded, smiled and said “Si, bella, bella” and laughed again. All the people we have met have been good-natured and helpful.
We spent our last evening in Camogli strolling the waterfront and enjoying a birthday pasta dinner. The waitress brought a chocolate cupcake with a single burning candle to celebrate the occasion.