Sometimes the most memorable moments are ones that are unplanned. There is something to be said about discovering unexpected bliss in places that had not prior touched our lips or thoughts. It’s the impromptu gatherings, the unscheduled stops, those moments when we toss aside preconceived notions and ideas, and allow ourselves to discover and grow.
After 6 months of making my “type A” Italian travel agenda, I had an unbelievable lineup for this area, but somehow, Portofino was never part of my dream vacation vision. I had been so focused on perfecting our time in Framura, at our incredible agriturismo, Il Laghello di Amina and hiking the stunning villages of Cinque Terre, that it simply was not on my radar. Had it not been for the fact that our incredibly hard working hosts, Lilia and Guido, have a leather shop to tend to, we would have completely missed out. So when she offered to take us with her for the day, we jumped at the chance!
**Read more about the amazing hidden pocket of Framura and our accommodations HERE.
I may not have known alot about Portofino, but I knew Paraggi Beach when I saw it! Located in the Bay between Santa Margherita and Portofino, its crystal clear water and stunning rock and villa lined walls make it an alcove of paradise. The fact that it is the only sandy beach in the area also makes this an extremely popular spot to soak up the sun. For all the sand we have had the luxury of digging our toes into, there has been nothing that compares to the uniqueness of Paraggi. We were happy to spend several hours playing in the sand and waves beneath the holiday homes of Dolce and Gabbana and Silvio Berlusconi’s son, Pier Silvio. While we didn’t have the fortune of star sightings, we did have the luxury of it being quiet and uncrowded. I cannot believe how easily we could have missed out on THIS.
Getting to Paraggi: The beach is located 1 1/2 miles up the coast from Portofino, and is an easy drive. It is also accessible by bus, and we found the walk along the trail leading to the village quite pleasant. A popular place to stay is Eight Hotel which is located directly on the beach, with it’s own private section of chairs and umbrellas.
**Typical of most beaches we visited, there is a small section of free beach as well as sections of private areas with chairs and umbrellas to rent. In high season, you will be looking at 18 to 30 euros per chair with an umbrella, including use of change facilities, etc.
The walk from Paraggi Beach to Portofino is leisurely and offers stunning views of the beach below!
Located in the heart of the Italian Riviera, Portofino, is the seaside village playground for the rich and famous. Long ago it was an inaccessible fishing village. That changed in the 19th century, and by the 1950’s Portofino was a hot spot for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Brigette Bardot. The last couple of years have seen the likes of Beyonce and Jay-Z, Mariah Carey (missed her by 2 days!) Denzel Washington and Liam Hemsworth gracing the quaint, upscale village. Portofino is known for incredible places to eat, unique variety white wines (and even a few notable Pinot Grigios) as well as its boutique shops. Reminiscent of the Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast, colorful homes and business dot the crescent shaped harbor, watched over by a castle sitting high above. The harbor is filled with small fishing boats and massive private yachts. Cruise ships do not enter the harbor, and passengers are brought into Portofino by ferry.
Not to miss in Portofino:
- Walk around the piazzeta and enjoy the boutique shops, or stroll along one of the most picturesque harbors in the world before taking a scenic ferry ride along the coast.
- Visit Castello Brown for stunning views and a tour of the 15th century castle museum. The Castle is a 15 minute walk from Portofino centre.
- Grab a drink and enjoy the view at Al Faro di Portofino
Taking a Scenic Ferry Ride Along the Coast:
The coast of Italy is iconic, and so the most scenic way of making our way back to Framura was by ferry. Ferries run through the peak seasons of April to September, scheduled regularly from 9:00 to 17:00. You can take a ferry from Portofino to Rapallo, making a stop in Santa Margherita, which offers a free public beach. Ferries also offer access to the Cinque Terre as well as Porto Venere and Sestri Levante. You can also find access to Genoa, 22 miles away and offering the nearest major airport, Christopher Columbus. From these access points you can hop on the train, and we easily returned to Deiva Marina, our home base station.
**For detailed ferry routes and prices, visit the official site HERE
I will forever be a planner, a list maker. I’m detail oriented, and my inner type A can struggle with the unexpected. But when we can learn to go with the flow, and allow for the universe to plant us in the middle of an uncharted moment, we truly discover what life has to offer. Listening to suggestions of locals is something I’ve learned to not only embrace, but to love. We are a visitor in their home, and they know the magical spots better than any guidebook or expert can ever provide. So free yourself every now and again, and invite unexpected bliss into your life. These will be the moments you remember most.