You might remember back to our arrival into the Italian Riviera. We had driven our motorhome into Santa Margherita, enroute to Portofino, only to realise very quickly that we couldn’t get access easily. We made a plan to come back and today was the day for it.
Having got our fill of the Cinque Terre and it’s gorgeous villages, we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss these two towns.
To avoid parking or access issues today, we caught the train from Levanto, where we had been staying in the Acqua Dolce Campground, to Santa Margherita.
Immediately next to the Levanto Train Station are two parking areas that specifically allow for motorhome parking. I love these places, and I love the cities who are forward thinking enough to recognise that there is a need. We motorhomers repay their thoughtfulness by spending money in their towns. It costs €12 for 12 hours but you can park (overnight) for up to 36 hours. The car park is safe and there are usually other motorhomes parked up with you.
The train trip to Portofino takes only 47 minutes. We are keen to get an early train, allowing us to spend some reasonable time in both towns. We’ve only allocated a day to do this before having to make our way towards our next destination.
Train travel in Italy is inexpensive and efficient. We can only go as far as Santa Margherita, not Portofino, by train. Portofino is geographically challenged in terms of access, so we must disembark here and catch a connecting bus.
As we travel the road towards Portofino, I understand completely why the motorhome could never travel these paths. At many stages I have no idea how the bus is going to make it.
Portofino is a small fishing village that has been taken over by the yachting community. As you take the road down from the bus stop, it is immediately evident that this isn’t any ordinary crowd of boaties. This morning, there are three significant boats anchored in the small harbour. Their decks full of equally significant beautiful people and deckhands waiting on their every command.
Portofino, perfectly manicured in every possible way, is now also a destination for day trippers. I think even the cobble stones are swept and polished every day. I can’t see anything out of order. And everyone here is also incredibly manicured themselves.
Boutique shops, Rolex stores, jewellery stores, restaurants and bars advertising Bollinger are standard fare around the harbour. As we walk by, ladies sit outside polishing silver candelabras whilst another puts out brass, engraved ash trays on the bar tables. I start to hold onto my wallet a little more tightly 🙂
Today was our 18th wedding anniversary, so we didn’t have breakfast in the motorhome, choosing instead to have it here by the water. In a town like Portofino, nothing moves fast. It’s low key and quiet. A perfect way to enjoy our morning here.
As we sit and eat, I can’t help but be fascinated by the deckhand sitting at a table nearby. He chain smokes and drinks coffee, with a hand always close by his two way radio and paying close attention to his mobile phone. Suddenly, he starts puffing on his cigarette with a little more determination, then he’s up and pacing. Shortly thereafter, he’s off. Clearly a call has come in from his boat owner and he needs to be in place.
You can arrive at Portofino by boat. Water taxis operate from Santa Margherita and in the summertime, up until approximately 11 September each year, you can catch a ferry from Levanto or La Spezia. Or you can motor in on your own boat like all of these other cool cats. Otherwise, do what we did and catch a train from where you are located and then a bus into Portofino.
Along the waterfront there are plenty of restaurants and cafes. We choose to have lunch at Kicks Lounge on the main square of Santa Margherita. Here we indulge in some good Italian fare and prosecco.