Northern Italy 2022, (September 3-14)
Enjoyed a great sleep, with the curtains closed it was pitch black and the rumor of night noise was not realized with the windows and shutters closed! My eyes opened early as usual around 5:30-6am. I eased quietly out of the bedroom to make coffee. I opened the large windows and tall green shutters in the living room and the sky was just starting to glow. The sound of scooters racing through town was already evident, closed the windows to let the ladies sleep a while longer. Made coffee and took it outside with me to take sunrise pics, beautiful morning...
Soon I found the ladies joyfully awake having coffee and tea, also taking pics from the open windows. With a great weather forecast we decided to take our hike to Portofino this morning. In my dry bag backpack you would find bathing suits and towel, just in case we needed a swim. Walked through Santa Margarita's marina then onto a nice coastal walkway next to the road. One amazing thing about Italy is that everyone seems very fit, lots of joggers and cyclists out at 9am....and scooters! We probably only went a mile or so when we saw a nice restaurant Buongustinaio, had to check it out. We decided to have another coffee and a croissant there, just because. The views are awesome from their deck, watched dogs play with their owners on Bau Bau beach. The restaurant offered beach accommodations, but I was more interested in the brick oven! We said we should return to try their pizza, didn't happen.
Time to move. Next place of interest to slow our pace was Paraggi Bay, absolutely our kind of place. Watching people dive and jump from the rock platforms looked fun and the colorful water inviting. We said we would come back to swim, we did, just not this day. Breezed through Paraggi and kept following the signs to Portofino, interesting to see people walking the crowded, if not treacherous, roadway when there's a beautiful trail system. The views were outstanding, but the shade was my happy place.
I didn't keep a journal this trip like i usually do, funny I just forgot to bring one. The distance hiked... about 7.5 miles round trip, I did document 30,000 steps on my cell phone from the entire day! and 70 flights for what it's worth. The trail is considered "moderate", we saw all varieties of people enjoying the trail, some seemed to be in a race, others just one step at a time. Relatively few people on the hike. The trail meanders along the coastal hillside, giving an occasional glimpse of some secluded swimming hole and amazing villas, I want to be their friend. Sometimes you're walking in the shadows next to a tall stone wall covered in ivy then into a treed park like setting in dappled sunlight, very nice. In the full sun I certainly broke a sweat on this clear 85 degree day! Cresting a hill we got our first glimpse of Portofino, not bad!
The town wears an upscale quaint persona, turn your back to the marina you get the quaint, face the mega yachts you get the upscale!. There were quite a few people here and the ferries seemed never ending. We sat on the piazza for a brief moment and people watched while cooling down, with a medium beer and spritz of course. The ladies did get to browse the shops a little.
Back on the trail to our waypoint at the lighthouse, probably another mile to go. The walk continued to be beautiful with few people, nice. Before you know it, there it is! I had read about the Al Faro Bar and it was easy to find at the base of the lighthouse facing the deep blue waters. Very Mediterranean vibe with everything white except for the blue chairs, cool place. We decided to have a light lunch here, shared some type of panini and caprese salad. Very good and the prices were reasonable considering where we were. So curious as to how they move provisions in and out of this remote spot?!
One thing that I'm fond of when traveling is actually buying a local t-shirt, that craze is apparently not a thing in Northern Italy! If Al Faro had a white t-shirt with a small blue logo of the lighthouse I would own it!!! Funny story, I was actually walking by the Santa Margherita marina with an Asheville North Carolina t-shirt on and another man passed wearing his Asheville shirt, I heard his wife say with a southern twang "did y'all see his shirt?"
Denying ourselves a second drink we opted to start the long trek back to Santa Margherita but not before changing into our bathing suits. The return trip seemed so much faster. I know we picked up the pace a little by not needing to take pics of everything we saw (1500 photos this trip) . As we walked around Paraggi Bay it was decided that we would come back in the morning to swim from the rocks when there are fewer people. We did take a refreshing swim break at Bau Bau beach! Sorry no pics, I didn't want to be "that guy" with the camera while some European sunbathing was going on! I should have been recorded stumbling into the water like a drunken sailor without beach shoes, painfull!!
Stopped at the apartment to relax and freshen up before dinner. We were looking for a restaurant without reservations AGAIN around 9pm. I would highly recommend reservations in the summer months. We saw a nice looking place called II Patio, the palm tree strung up with lights actually caught our eye. They may have rolled their eyes when we said no reservation, but the nice hostess said of course, give us 2 minutes. We opted for a variety of tasty seafood dishes. Service and food is great here. Surprisingly we had room for dessert, shared an orange panna cotta and I think they called it apple pie served in a jar, crazy good!
Funny moment at the end of dinner that would be repeated many times during our trip, the waiter spoke almost no English, I speak basically no Italian, but I love to talk, I was trying to tell the waiter how much we appreciated getting to dine there, how wonderful the food and service was and with a blank look he quickly says "Good night, bye bye!"! I simply nodded my head and said ciao!
It was agreed that we couldn't call it a night without a nightcap at Il Vernissage wine bar...until the next post...Cheers!