Two nights didn’t feel like enough in Lake Garda (we could have spent two weeks!) but we were just as excited to get back on the road and head to Portofino. The drive is about three hours long and I was getting pretty sleepy/car sick from editing photos and working in the car, but when I started to see the coastal towns as we got close, I woke right up with excitement. This was my first time in the Italian Riviera and it was just as I had always imagined. We rolled down the windows as we got closer to our destination, Hotel Splendido, welcoming the warm breeze that flew through the car all while my playlist (the soundtrack from Midnight in Paris, one of my favorite movies) started putting us in just the right mood.
We took our first afternoon pretty easy, ordering a late lunch and heading down into the town for a bit of exploring. The four of us were tired and decided to keep the night low-key with a casual dinner along the water at O Magazin, which ended up turning into multiple bottles of rosé, lots of laughs and long dinners. That seemed to be the theme of our trip! That’s one of my favorite reasons why I love traveling with friends and the four of us have the best time together. It also doesn’t hurt that Rose and Thomas are two of the funniest people I know, so my face and belly ached from laughing so much.
Rose texted me the following morning and said “Room service pj party at our place”, so we jumped out of bed, grabbed our slippers and robes and walked a few doors down to their room. We sat out on the balcony while the rain drizzled outside, sipping on fresh mint tea and devouring our omelets and croissants. Afterwards, we thought we would heat up a bit in the “heated” pool, but a quick dip in the chilled water had us running out quickly.
We waited for the rain to fade before heading out in the early afternoon to explore. Portofino itself is pretty small once you get into the actual town, but it’s so incredibly charming. Sailboats and yachts sit in the harbor, slowly rocking from side to side, while chatting tourists and locals sit around cafe tables covered in striped tablecloths.
Thomas and I walked up to Chiesa San Giorgio, a beautiful yellow Catholic Church sitting atop a cliff with a panoramic view of Portofino. This is the best scenic spot for pictures and gives you a great perspective of the town. We watched boats come and go, and basked in the sun that finally started to peek through the clouds. We also tried to walk up to Castello Brown (also a great spot for good views) the day before, but were too late as it closes at 6pm.
We called the exploring to an end when Rose suggested gelato and we ended up grabbing a table and ordering a round of white wine.
We went back to the hotel and changed into warmer clothes for the evening and headed back out earlier than normal. We just so happened to be in Portofino during the San Giorgio Festival, which lies on April 23rd every year and honors Saint George, a patron saint of Portofino. A giant bonfire is created in the town square, taking days to make, and local fisherman grill up that day’s catch, all while music is played and people dance into the night. When we checked into our hotel, they told us about the event and suggested heading down early as it gets packed pretty quickly. We picked a spot, Ristorante Strainer, that sits on the far edge of the town, looking right into the town square. We grabbed the best table and parked ourselves there for the night until the festivities began. We of course, had to order the truffle pasta made in a giant wheel of parmesan, making it extra, extra cheesy.
After a few more rounds of cheesy truffle pasta (we were addicted), we could see the smoke starting to rise from the bonfire and we knew the night had begun!