- Stay in Santa Margherita Ligure, prices are better and there is more to do in my opinion (more restaurants, bars, more beach choices).
- Make reservations for dinner if you're heading out at Italian-time (8pm-10pm) and want prime seating outside, or ask your hotel to do it for you.
- Don't wear hiking gear on your hike to Portofino, when you get there you'll feel out of place- the main piazza is flanked by a dozen luxury shops and gorgeous people getting off their yachts.
- Flowy materials, white cotton, designer sunglasses, and jewell-ed sandals are mainstays for your wardrobe. Pack a pair of cute closed walking shoes if you're wanting to do the hike to Portofino.
- Forgot about the tip above? Head over to Antica Sartoria in Portofino for the most amazing cover-ups and caftans that just scream "Italian Riviera". You'll spot the Tiffany-blue bags on the arm of every second woman once you get into Portofino, trust me.
- Listen hard to the train announcements at the station or make sure you know what order trains are coming in- alot of tourists either missed trains or got on wrong ones because even though the train back to Milan was scheduled for 17:40 and we arrived just 15 minutes before, in that span of time, at least two other trains had come and gone and could have easily be mistaken for ours if we weren't listening carefully.
I spent the weekend on the Italian Riviera- doesn't that sound so fabulous when you say it aloud? The funny thing is that to an Italian, it's not exactly so fabulous sounding, Miami Beach on the other hand would be soooooo much cooler. The reason why I headed off to the sea this past weekend was because Massi and his crew were also off to the opposite coast (North) for a bachelor party. Michela (token Canadian friend from Toronto) and I took the train to Milan then to Santa Margherita Ligure over a total of two-hours and something, quite a quick commute to our Canadian standards. Usually you train into Santa Margherita Ligure, even if you're wanting to stay in Portofino because unless you have a private yacht that can sail right into the marina in Portofino, or a helicopter, the only way to get there is by ferry, walking, or car/bus from Santa Margherita Ligure. Portofino is small so it doesn't have it's own train station so normal people are obliged to get off at Santa Margherita Ligure first and find transportation to Portofino. We decided to stay right in the heart of S. Margherita since it's bigger and offers more in terms of restaurants, lounges, and beaches. On Saturday, after decompressing at the hotel, we headed out on a "hike" to Portofino which would take about one hour. We did this "backpacker in heels" style, Michela in flip-flops and me in my trendy New Balance sneakers that weren't exactly made for marathon runs. Alongside us were the other German/American/Canadian tourists complete in full hiking gear, backpacks, and even walking poles. Not sure who gets stranger looks upon arrival in chic Portofino...We saw the sights, enjoyed an overly-expensive aperitivo in the main piazza, spied on Speedo-clad-hair-slicked-back multi-millionaires on their yachts, and overall enjoyed Portofino. Not sure what the nightlife would be like though as we did not come across many young people that weren't part of a couple. Dinner was at Baicin back in Santa Margherita, a trattoria with unpretentious clientele and a spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clams) that was the stuff of dreams. I suggest reservations if you want to (and you'll want to) sit outside. We then walked off our seafood/cheap house wine-induced stupor along the water and once we were feeling level-headed, found our way to the bar for a killer glass of Da Vinci Chianti, the Reserva, which is one of my favourites. The nightlife is young-ish, trendy, wealthy; the heels of the girls super high and skinny while the skirts were so short they almost were non-existent. Be warned it's alot of tourists and the locals/Italians did not seem overly interested- I think it's gotten to the point where foreigners aren't so preyed upon, therefore if you're looking for a fling with someone who you can't understand, from my observations I think that would be unlikely- try Florence instead. The next day was beach day- the best kind of day, complete with loungers (you'll cough up 20 Euros but it comes with an umbrella and use of facilities like a pool and change rooms/showers). It was scorching for the middle of May. Lunch at the seaside is always fun because you get to have light favourites like insalata caprese (Caprese salad) and prosciutto e melone, topped off with bubbly prosecco. We had to say "arrivederci" at five in the afternoon to catch our train back to Milan and it was definitely a tough goodbye...Scroll down for photos from the weekend & some helpful tips should you want to plan your own weekend getaway.
Tips for Visiting Santa Margherita Ligure and Portofino:
Jasmine is a (former) pharmacist turned freelance writer, foodie, and fashionista from Alberta, Canada living "the sweet life" in Bergamo, Italy.