Day 77 – Portofino, Italy
We approached the tiny port of Portofino at dawn today and began to position the ship for the use of the lifeboats as tenders to take us ashore. The Captain determined that the designated area for us to anchor had too much swell to allow safe operation of the tenders, so he proposed that the ship move closer to the shore, out of the wind, and hold position with our engines instead of the anchor. Unfortunately, the port officials vetoed the idea so we were forced to haul the tenders back on board and take off for the port of Genoa, about 26 miles north.
Genoa has historically been known as “sea faring” city/state. One look at the map of the city, including the harbor, confirms that it is still very oriented around the sea.
Of all the places we have visited on this trip, we have not seen any harbor with more capability to handle ships, large and small. The inner harbor is FILLED with yachts, ferries and container ships.
As we exit the cruise terminal, this fountain further attests to the seafaring nature of Genoa.
Since we were looking forward to seeing Portofino, we decided to negotiate a flat rate for a taxi to take us there and back. In no time, we were in Pietro’s cab, a new Fiat and headed on the tollway out of town.
The highway literally cuts through the mountain ranges – if you are not passing under a mountain in a tunnel, you are passing over a valley on a bridge, all the way down the coast. Trains are the most used form of transport in this area, reasonable and quick.
We exited the tollway at the town of Rapallo and passed the Rapallo Golf Club.
We passed through a coastal resort town, Santa Margherita, and then followed the coast for about 5 miles to Portofino.
This is a lovely seaside resort with a crescent beach area dotted with cafes and shops. Charming – just the kind of place you’d like to spend a week.
In Portofino, the first thing that strikes you about the place is how very, very small it is. It is a small cove, about 50 yards wide, with restaurants down each arm of the cove and stores, small hotels and restaurants extending about 1 block away from water. Here is a shot toward the water, with the small hotels to my back.
There is no auto traffic in the town, so all taxis and cars are parked several blocks away. This creates a very relaxed atmosphere at the shore – not much hustle and bustle at all.
Here is a shot looking across the cove at the hillside above.
As refined as it is – it is still Italy, and there is laundry hanging off the balconies.
We strolled around, did a little shopping and then opted for some Bruschetta and beer at shoreside.
Even though this was one of the ports everyone was looking forward to, we didn’t see a single person from the ship.
After lunch, we strolled up to the meeting point we had agreed upon with Pietro – jumped in his little Fiat and were off back through the tunnels and over the bridges to Genoa.
A short, expensive trip, but worth it to see the place we had heard so much about.
Back in Genoa we still had some time left before sailing so we decided to see a little bit of the town and took off walking. Once again, the city confirmed itself as a gritty working seaport type of community, not a tourist destination.
This is typical of the scenes in Genoa – the main train station.
An interesting factoid about Genoa. In the early days, the flag of the City State of Genoa was the cross of St. George. This flag was respected by pirates in the area because the Genoan sailors were known for their fighting ability. Other countries would buy the rights to fly the flag, in an effort to discourage the pirates from attacking their ships. One country that purchased the right to fly the flag was England and they kept the flag and adopted it as their national flag.
We made our way back to the ship and re-boarded to rest up for our next port, tomorrow – Nice, France.