During our trip to Italy we knew definitely wanted to visit Portofino, the next town along the coastline from where we were staying in Santa Margherita. We’d also heard that the small town just beyond Portofino was also beautiful, so we decided to visit both in one day.
My family and I hopped on the ferry boat in the morning and within 45 minutes we were pulling into San Fruttuoso bay. The water was a gorgeous turquoise colour and we quickly realised San Fruttuoso was little more than a very small town, with a picturesque harbour and an ancient Benedictine monastery. It was gorgeous and we hopped off the boat and began to explore.
The only access to San Fruttuoso is via boat or on foot, so it was completely free from traffic and wonderfully peaceful. We strolled through the streets and it was even smaller than it first looked.
We wandered up the hill towards the 16th century watch tower that overlooks the bay. On our way up we saw signs for a walk from San Fruttuoso to Portofino, where we had planned to get the ferry boat to in the afternoon.
My brother Iain -always up for a challenge – quickly proclaimed that he’d like to walk to Portofino, rather than go by boat. Thomas and I quickly piped up that we’d be up for the challenge too. Everyone else did the sensible thing and stayed quiet.
The signs said it would take 1 hour 30 minutes and as we looked along the coastline towards Portofino we wondered where the heck the path went. We couldn’t see anything other than trees, so we assumed it ambled through the trees and round the coastline.
I was wearing pretty, summer sandals with very little support or grip, so I probably should have stayed with my parents and brother’s girlfriend Michelle, and get the boat to Portofino instead of attempting the walk. But I’m incredibly stubborn and didn’t want to miss out on anything.
We headed to the nearest cafe, got a bottle of water each and left the others in a cafe saying we’d see them soon in Portofino.
We started the walk, along a makeshift path with all of us thinking ‘this isn’t so bad after all’. Little did we know the path was about to turn into a zig-zag clearing through the trees that would see us climbing around 450 metres to the top of the cliffs and over.
Calling it a ‘path’ is a little generous. It’s an old route previously used by mules, so it’s unsteady, uneven and very steep in some places. My sandals were holding me back and I was annoyed I couldn’t walk as quickly as I wanted to.
Near the top of the cliff disaster struck.
My sandal snapped.
Luckily Iain and Thomas were both boy scouts when they were younger and quickly came up with the idea of tying twine round my sandal and my foot to keep my sandal on. It was effective for a short while, until the twine started to come loose and was seriously itchy, so we swapped the twine for Iain’s shoelaces. Perfect!
For the majority of the walk we were enshrouded in trees, so there was very little to see. This meant that when we eventually came to a clearing we were all absolutely spellbound by the views down to the bays and the gorgeous waters of the Mediterranean below us.
We didn’t realise just how high we’d climbed, or how far we’d come until we came to a clearing at the tip of the bay and at the highest point. Phew!
An hour an a half later we found ourselves at the end of the trail, but not yet in Portofino. We had arrived at Portofino Vetta, which isn’t Portofino at all, but nearer Camogli. From there we had a fairly steep walk downhill to get to the harbour at Portofino.
Making it to Portofino was brilliant and felt like such an achievement. Iain was wandering around with one trainer minus the shoelaces, I had his shoelace tied around my sandal and the three of us were all sticky and sweaty. We definitely didn’t look like the millionaires who usually frequent the village!
Looking back, the walk was one of my absolute favourite parts of our Italy trip. If you’re visiting this area definitely pack some supportive walking shoes and give it a go. You don’t need to be an experienced walker or hiker to complete it. I think I proved that quite well in my summer sandals, don’t you?!