A day trip to Portofino on a glorious, sunny day in the Italian Riviera

This is a continuation of my series documenting our time in Italy in May. We had encountered some of the heaviest rains of this trip the previous evening in Santa Margherita Ligure. The rains forced us to postpone our day trip to the resort town of Portofino from the previous evening to the next day morning. It was the only time we could do this now, as we had to catch the afternoon train to Milan. So we were desperately hoping and praying for some good weather.

The weather Gods were kind on us once again, and it was clear blue skies over Santa Margherita to greet us when we woke up. That perked up our mood significantly and we got ready and had a sumptuous breakfast at the royally decorated breakfast room at the Hotel Jolanda.

The entrance to the breakfast room in Hotel Jolanda, regally decorated

Then we checked out of our room, kept our luggage in the luggage storage & went to the beach bus stop, from where we bought tickets and caught the bus to Portofino. The bus winded down a sea side road, through the old and new parts of Santa Margherita where I had been the previous rainy night. Soon we left Santa Margherita behind and the winding, relatively level road snaked its way to Portofino. On the way we realised that most of the road had a dedicated walking path all the way to Santa Margherita and walking back would be the best way to enjoy the beautiful weather.

We were in Portofino relatively early in the day, so the only people there apart from those on our bus, were the rich people actually living in the exorbitantly priced hotels there. We walked around the picturesque little harbour filled with yachts of all shapes and sizes. I took the stock photo of Portofino that you see when you type the name in Google search (Featured image).

It was a really beautiful day to be in such a pretty little town. Sunny but not hot, cool breeze making things pleasant, beautiful clouds and light for photography and relatively less crowds. We walked up to the end of the harbour and sat on a bench there just enjoying the weather and the view.

A beautiful day to be in Portofino

After a while we started searching for the path leading to the church at the top of the hill. After a few false starts due to closed paths, we finally found the narrow road which led up the hill. As is the norm for all these small Italian towns, these narrow streets are very photogenic and my camera loves them.

Narrow cobbled streets typical of Italian small towns

As we moved up the hill the views kept getting better and I couldn’t resist taking photos every few steps up making it a very slow ascent up the hill.

View of Portofino half way up the hill.

We reached the church of San Giorgio at the top of the hill facing the harbour of Portofino. This church was heavily damaged in the bombings of World War II and has been painstakingly rebuilt accurate to the original design. The church itself is very plain but the location is spectacular, the open sea on one side and the town of Portofino on the other with birds eye views of both.

The Church of San Giorgio at the top of the hill

We went inside and did our routine of sitting in the pews for a few minutes and taking a few photos. We exited as soon as a noisy group tour entered the church. (I hate these tours that don’t respect the environment they are in!)

The reconstructed church of San Giorgio

I run in the opposite direction these group tours take and since they were exiting the cemetery adjacent to the church, we decided to go in. Cemeteries in these Italian towns are the absolute opposite of what I always imagined cemeteries to be. Well maintained, tastefully decorated and at beautiful locations, these are a pleasure to visit and any traveller to Italy shouldn’t miss the chance to see these beautiful memorials.

The beautiful cemetery behind the church of San Giorgio

After walking around and taking a few photos, we left the cemetery and sat outside the church. The noisy group had left by now and it was only us enjoying the view over Portofino. We sat there as there was a nice breeze going, the only thing missing was a gelato. Sadly there were no gelato shops there, we would have to wait for our fix of gelato.

View of Portofino from the Church of San Giorgio

We then went back down the same path that we had used to go up and reached the harbour. As we had decided to walk back to Santa Margherita Ligure, it was time to bid Portofino harbour goodbye.

Saying goodbye to Portofino harbour

As we walked up the stairs out of the harbour, I remembered the other church near the bus stop that we had seen on our way into town. This was the Church of St Martin, it was open now so we ducked in for a quick visit. This church was more ornately decorated in the baroque style – painted ceilings, chandeliers and the works, very good for photos!

Church of St Martin in Portofino
The organ and the entrance of St Martins church

It was now time to start our walk back to Santa Margherita.  We started walking along the road, till we reached the part where a dedicated pedestrian lane started all the way to Santa Margherita. (There are short stretches in between where you have to walk on the road but nothing dangerous)

Leaving St Martins church and Portofino behind

There are beautiful villas perched up on the hills almost all the way to Santa Margherita. There were quite a lot of people walking in the opposite direction to us and I was glad that we had got to Portofino before it got too crowded.

Villas line the hills on the road to Santa Margherita

We passed Paraggi beach which had people enjoying the good spell of weather. We walked on and soon Santa Margherita bay came into view. It seemed that all yachts that I had seen parked in the harbour last night were out and the owners were enjoying the breeze.

Yachts galore in Santa Margherita bay

All along the path there are regular vantage points off the path where you can enjoy the view. Sadly we didn’t have time to enjoy these and we walked on. It took us an hour to get to Santa Margherita, but it was a pleasant & memorable walk with great views all the way. We would have missed this experience had we taken the bus back.

A PADI diving centre just outside the city 

Soon we were walking through the newer part of Santa Margherita Ligure where there was an exhibition selling yachts. And there were so many people actually in it, I wonder how many actually intended to ever buy one!

The new town of Santa Margherita Ligure – Looking pretty in the sun

We walked on past new town into the old town and the park where we greeted the statues of messrs Marco Polo and Garibaldi one last time. The sunny weather was too enticing just to rush off. So we joined the crowd in the bustling park and sat for a few minutes watching the locals walk their dogs of all sizes & kids frolicking and enjoying the sunshine.

Garibaldi enjoys the sun
Enjoying the sun in the park at Santa Margherita Ligure

We then moved on towards our hotel and satiated our appetite for gelato  with a special “Pinguino” at the Gelateria Centrale, a chocolate dipped gelato. It was a great end to a memorable morning.

A pinguino at the Gelateria Centrale 

Before heading back to the hotel I decided to visit the by now familiar gourmet shop, Seghezzo and packed some lunch to have on the way to Milan. I also bought some gourmet chocolate covered nuts which I relished slowly over two months, sadly all thats left of that is memories!

We collected our luggage and walked down to the station in time to catch our train to Milan. This was our last day of our vacation, but there was still a live football Series A match at the San Siro to look forward to in Milan.

But that is topic for another post, another day.

Till then,




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