Portofino and Porto Venere
Portofino is very popular with artists, celebrities and writers who have celebrated its irresistible charm.
The famous Piazzetta, the gathering place of international Jet Set members, is the symbol of Portofino, while the marina, with its picturesque and brightly-colored houses, testifies to the town’s great seafaring tradition.
The streets around the harbor can be toured very quickly. Via Roma is the most crowded street, lined with shops and restaurants. Shopping fans can head straight to the Piazzetta and the seaside promenade, filled with shops and art galleries.
Among the town’s artistic sights is the Church of San Giorgio, dating back to the 12th century, where the relics brought back by the sailors returning from the Crusades are kept. There is also a beautiful view from the church square.
Nearby is the Brown Castle, a fortress nestled in a magnificent terraced garden, with walls decorated with bas-reliefs and marble and slate architectural details. Not far away from here is the lighthouse, situated on the Punta del Capo (Punta Portofino), which dominates the whole bay.
When lunch or dinnertime come round, stop at Trattoria Concordia (Via del Fondaco, 4): top-quality ingredients and wonderfully-presented dishes.
From Rapallo, drive to the lovely Porto Venere, lying on the Gulf of La Spezia. The brightly-colored houses (Palazzata a mare) along the harbor are one of Italy’s and perhaps of the world’s most beautiful seaside landscapes.
Set on the rock that dominates the seaside village is one of the ancient Republic of Genoa’s most impressive military constructions, the Doria Castle. Worth visiting is also the Church of San Pietro, dating back to the 12th century and situated in a lovely position.
Lying opposite Porto Venere are three islands which are listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites: Palmaria, which can be reached by boat every day in summertime, is the ideal island for nature lovers and swimmers; and Tino and Tinetto.
Located on the western side of the island, the most difficult to reach, is the Blue Grotto and the Doves Grotto.
After having walked through Portovenere’s lovely streets, stop at Ristorante Elettra (Calata Doria, 42). In addition to the breathtaking view of the Palmaria island, this restaurant offers excellent fish-based dishes.