What to see in Portofino
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Portofino

Portofino is a charming coastal village in Italy that portrays a feeling of romance and luxury. It is a very popular destination, particularly for those who arrive in enormous and opulent yachts and of course cruise ships. The region has been a playground for the rich and famous since the 19th century. Sir Rex Harrison visited Portofino for his holidays and loved it so much he built a villa, named San Genesio after the patron saint of actors.

WEATHER

With its fantastic location on the Mediterranean, the summers are dry and warm with temperatures hovering around 30°C. For the winter months the temperature rarely goes lower than 10°C.

PORT

The harbour of Portofino is small and shallow. It is a typical marina and fishing port. Cruise ships cannot dock in port and instead will drop anchor in the bay. Reaching the shore is done via a tender boat. It is a brief walk from the port to the centre of Portofino. The town is highly favoured by hikers as there are many well-kept footpaths that lead to every area in the town.

WHAT TO SEE

Abbazia di San Fruttuoso

Constructed by Benedictine monks, the Abbazia di San Fruttuoso is a medieval era stronghold that fiercely protected the small fishing village. It can be reached via a 20-minute boat ride. Today, the abbey is a popular attraction and holds many art and history exhibitions. The abbey also contains the tombs of the Doria Pamphilj family, a prominent family of nobles that resided in Portofino some centuries ago.

San Fruttuoso Portofino

Castello Brown

For those with a deep passion for history, the best place to head to is Castello Brown. It sits towering above Portofino’s harbour. The castle was restored in the 16th century and has maintained its original appearance. Visitors are greeted with an enormous array of medieval relics once inside.

Castello Brown Portofino

Museo del Parco

On the hillside above the port, the museum is an open-air sculpture park that sits amongst stunningly beautiful gardens filled to the brim with a variety of flora. It houses the largest collections of outdoor Italian monumental sculptures by more than 100 contemporary artists. The grounds were commissioned by a Baron and it was initially part of the Castle located above it.

Punta Portofino Lighthouse

If seeking that perfect photo opportunity, the Punta Portofino lighthouse is yet another good choice. The lighthouse can be reached by a 15-minute walk from the port. The views from here are truly memorable.

Punta Portofino Lighthouse - Image courtesy of flickr user Aloa

Taking in the sun

Since Portofino has a lot more sun than rain, spend some time at Paraggi Beach. This contains a small sliver of sand that is located just outside of the town. Many locals come here in the summertime to cool down in its crystal waters. There is also a nearby cove to explore that is teeming with aquatic life.

Other things to note

See one of the most impressive views with the number 82 local bus running along narrow coastal roads towards Santa Margherita Ligure.

St. George’s Day is one of the most popular holidays in Portofino. It is celebrated in the San Giorgio church. The church is prominently located on a cliff overlooking the sea and within it are trinkets and relics from the Holy Land. Many historians claim that the objects were brought back during the Crusades.

Shopping

Designer stores selling luxury clothes for example Gucci and Prada as well as local markets are popular places for cruise passengers to visit before they set off to the next port of call. There are also many vendors selling the town’s speciality of antiques and furniture.

On many Mediterranean cruise itineraries the ports of call in Italy tend to be Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Pisa and Florence) and Naples. It is great to see that many cruise lines are making visits to the smaller ports too.

The following cruise lines visiting Portofino in 2015 include Hapag Lloyd, Oceania Cruises, P & O, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, SeaDream Yacht Club and Silversea.

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What to do In La Spezia?
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La Spezia, on the so called Italian Riviera, is becoming an increasingly popular cruise port for small and mid-sized ships. Ships will anchor in the bay and allow passengers to be tendered from the ship into the port where there are many different things to see and do. It is also a great starting point for visiting Pisa, Florence, Santa Margherita and Portofino.

La Spezia

The Abbey church of Santa Maria Assunta dates as far back as the 13th century, and contains some stunning artworks. La Spezia is also home to a number of fascinating museums, including the highly renowned fine arts museum, Museo Amedeo Lia. The collection spans the 13th to 18th centuries and includes works by Titian, among many others. If you’re a fan of art and history then La Spezia will surely appeal to you.

Also nearby and easy to get to by train are the villages of the Cinque Terre which comprise of five villages which form the Cinque Terre National Park and enjoy UNESCO status.

Cinque Terre

La Spezia is also famous for its great shopping streets. There are many streets in the city that are lined with everything from unique boutique style shops, high street favourites and upmarket designer stores. If you like shopping then La Spezia will definitely appeal to you!

La Spezia Street

If you fancy venturing further afield, from La Spezia it is easy to reach Pisa, Florence and Santa Margherita by train. Each of these destinations can be reached in around an hour, via a direct journey by train. The train station is within easy walking distance of where you will disembark your cruise ship. The trains in Italy are generally fast, efficient and on time. Just make sure you validate your ticket in the ticket machines before you board a train to avoid a fine.

La Spezia Port

Visiting Pisa and its famous Leaning Tower is a great day trip from La Spezia if you’ve always wanted to see this architectural wonder. Don’t forget to spend a little time walking the streets of Pisa too as there are some lovely streets around the river.

Florence is home to some of the most stunning architecture you’ll ever see. Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore is absolutely magnificent, and if you’re up for a bit of a challenge then why not climb the steps to the top of the duomo and enjoy the spectacular views from the top over the city and the surrounding areas.

Santa Margherita is a quintessentially beautiful small town on the Italian Riviera and has beautiful squares, grand architecture, amazing seafood and adorable shops. It’s hard not to fall in love with Santa Margherita and nearby Portofino, one of the most colourful places I’ve visited.

La Spezia is a cruise port that offers passengers so many different choices that deciding what to do whilst you are visiting this port could be the toughest part of your entire cruise!

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