Genoa 2018: A Trip to Portofino & Aperitivo

It was the second day of my 3-day tour of Genoa and its art with Hotel Alphabet. While a visit to the Cinque Terre and Portofino didn’t strictly fit into the ‘art history’ theme, it was nevertheless a great thing to do. And happily, despite an unpromising weather forecast over the last few days, we were lucky to enjoy some glorious sunny weather.

A minibus had been arranged to take 8 of us to Portofino; an hour’s drive away. This pretty little fishing village on the Ligurian coast has been a favourite destination for the rich and famous for decades. Today it’s a major tourist attraction.

The minibus dropped us off at the top of the village as cars aren’t allowed to drive down. But it was only a very short walk to the bay and sea.

It was about 10.30 by now and not very busy; an hour later it would be packed with tourists.

Marie-Anne led us to the start of a steep, cobbled path which would take us up to the 16th century fortress, Castello Brown. The fortress played a major role in various wars, including during Napoleon’s Ligurian Republic, but later, in the early 19th century, was abandoned and fell into ruin. Then in 1867 the remains were bought by Montague Yeats-Brown (hence the ‘Brown’ name) who was the British consul in Genoa at the time. It was turned into a home and remained in the family until 1949. It was eventually sold to the city of Portofino in 1961.

The climb up may have been steep but the reward was fantastic views.

At the top you could see from the castle’s terrace how wonderful it must have been to live there, looking out across the village and along the coast of the Ligurian Sea.

I really loved visiting Portofino, having wanted to see it for a long time.  However, I wouldn’t want to stay there or even spend much time there for it’s now far too touristy.

We came back to Genoa by bus to Santa Marguerita, then a train to Genova-Nervi. Here we visited The Wolfsonian Museum with its focus on decorative Art Nouveau and Art Deco art and Rationalism.

A short walk took us to the Galleria D’Arte Moderna. There were no art gems there, it has to be said, so not worth a special visit, but still interesting to go as we were close and by chance a flower festival was on in the gardens which we could see too.

A final short train ride took us back into central Genoa. By now it was nearly 6pm. After a short time back at my hotel, I headed to Piazza Giacomo Matteotti and Cafe Douce where I’d gone for a drink last night. I hadn’t wanted to eat anything then as I’d a table booked at Osteria Ravecca but I’d seen some wonderful plates of snacks for aperitivo pass me by and I wanted to try them.

When I arrived in the piazza there was a small food market. The produce looked wonderful and a cheese stall offered me a tasting.



Then I found myself a seat outside the cafe. It was clouding over and I’d even felt a few raindrops in the air so I made sure I sat under one of the big umbrellas.

I ordered a glass of prosecco for €5 and for an extra €2 it was served with ‘finger food’. (Notice also in the photo the bottle of water with spray to ‘dissuade’ the pigeons!)

It was the most wonderful plate of food. And all for €2! It was almost a meal. Really, no one does aperitivo like the Italians. It’s quite common in Italy to have some food brought with an early evening drink. You don’t always pay depending on what is served but it’s worth paying €2 for this lovely selection of ‘finger food’.

I sat and enjoyed the drink and food, eating slowly and relaxing in the warm summer’s air, a gentle buzz of happy chatter around me, and a nice view of this lovely city of Genoa.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

5 thoughts on “Genoa 2018: A Trip to Portofino & Aperitivo

  1. I remember how much I loved hiking in the Cinque Terre years ago. Thank you for reminding me!

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