Where you can go where the boats are bigger than the apartments? Portofino, Italy that’s where. Once a little fishing village clustering around a small harbor, since the 1950s this small town on the Italian Riviera has been the summer playground for the rich and aristocratic of Europe and Britain, and when these people go to the seaside they go on very large, very luxurious yachts. A cluster of pastel buildings lines the horseshoe shaped bay, and most of the seafront is cafes and restaurants – none of them particularly cheap.
The village is car free although you can drive to a small, often crowded car park nearby. Really the best way to arrive in Portofino is by boat; there are ferries for those of us non-yacht-owning types, coming from Santa Margherita Ligure, Rapallo and Camogli. Once you get to town, the things to see aside from celebrities are the medieval castle – it’s an Italian town, of course it has a castle – Castello Brown which sits in lovely gardens on a hill above the village and has great views over the coastline. Its other main attraction are the photos of the many famous visitors of the past. This is a town proud of the magnetism it exudes on well-known people. On the way to the castle pop into the church San Giorgio and the lighthouse on Punta del Capo; I personally have a great weakness for lighthouses. If you like walking, you can hike about two hours (or you can take a boat) across the peninsula to the 11th century abbey Abbazia di San Fruttuoso. And don’t be put off by all those steep cliffs dropping into that perfect clear water – there are beaches dotted not far away along the riviera.