Our Italian adventure started as we crossed the French / Italian border after visiting France for a few days for a beautiful family wedding.
Italy has always been on my list of places to go, but with so many incredible areas and not being able travel for a couple of years I felt the need to experience more than just a city break. After seeing that it was only 4-5 hour drive from Marseille, we decided to start our road trip by heading down to the Italian Riviera to Portofino, before heading to Modena, Florence and finishing off in Tuscany for a few days.
I was easily drawn into the idea of Portofino due to it being described as an idyllic fishing village with gorgeous views, but whilst we were trying to find an air bnb a few months before we couldn’t justify the cost when we had such an expensive trip ahead. After some research, we landed on Hotel Italia in Rapallo, only a 20 minute drive from Portofino, and after our experience I’m so glad we ended up there.
Once we arrived, tired from a long drive, we decided to take a short train and bus to the fishing village I had so longed to visit. As we passed through the winding roads on the bus I was gasping at the beauty of the coastline and the little pebble beaches, so excited to reach our destination, thinking if this is leading up to it, how amazing would Portofino be? I have to admit the moment we stepped off the bus, I was surprisingly underwhelmed.
I’m not sure whether it was the coach loads of people or the fact we were a bit fried already, but it just wasn’t the place for us. You always have to expect prices to be a little crazy in tourist areas, especially one that prides itself on exclusivity, but when you’re looking for incredible food with breathtaking views, nowhere really seemed that desirable. Although, I have to admit, that first Aperol Spritz hit the spot. I would still say go for an afternoon as you may have a different experience to us, but I wouldn’t recommend staying there for a few days.
Because of this, we ended up exploring our local area and a couple of nearby towns and beaches which I couldn’t recommend more.
Rapallo is a bustling seaside town with plenty of great restaurants and the people are so welcoming. We decided to spend our second day walking along the coastline back towards Portofino, stopping off along the way at Pagana for a morning coffee overlooking the beach and Santa Margherita for lunch. The charm and relaxed nature of Santa Margherita is what really made us fall in love with the area.
Along the way we found a couple of great spots to have a drink and watch the world go by before settling down at Il Molo beach, which is overlooked by Buongustaio DOC, which is also worth a visit just to sit out on the bar overlooking the sea.
I know there are plenty of other places to explore along the Italian Riviera coastline but I feel we uncovered a little gem which I hope to come back and visit many times throughout the years.