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Portofino Hotels

One of the most photographed villages along the coast, with a decidedly romantic and affluent aura, Portofino has long been a popular destination for the rich and famous.

Portofino has an idyllic setting on the Ligurian coast and a wonderfully picturesque harbour. Surrounded by pine trees and olive groves, Portofino retains the charm of the original fishing village despite its jet-set reputation. While undeniably expensive, summer at the Italian Riviera's most exclusive resort cannot be beaten - and the weather is usually warm until the end of October.

The classic sight
Portofino's semi-circular waterfront is lined with pastel-coloured houses with frescoed faades and geranium-covered roof terraces and surrounded by pine trees and olive groves. The harbour itself is dotted with a variety of vessels - from little wooden fishing boats to huge yachts with full crews. The cobbled piazzetta in front of the harbour is the best place for eating, drinking or checking out the designer shops on the waterfront.

The alternative sight
The medieval abbey of San Fruttuoso can be reached by boat or a two-hour trek through the vineyards. The beautifully preserved abbey was built by Greek monks in the 10th century, and its warren of corridors and rooms leads to several lovely cloisters, a Byzantine church and vaults.

The walk
Start at the ornate 12th-century San Martino church, which overlooks one corner of the harbour. From the harbour, walk up Salita San Giorgio, a cobbled path leading to the impressive San Giorgio church. A shaded path leads round the headland to Castello Brown, a stronghold and strategic lookout. Walk on through the pine trees, past turquoise coves to the lighthouse from where there are panoramic views over the bay.

The big night out
Start your evening the Italian way and join the passeggiata alongside the harbour, stopping for an ice cream at one of the stalls on the piazzetta. The coolest bar on the waterfront is Bar Morena Di Ugo. Sit on one of the tables overlooking the harbour and order the house special, a Bellini (fresh peach juice in a huge goblet topped up with a 200ml bottle of Champagne). Next, make your way to La Gritta, a floating bar on a pontoon covered in orange cushions. After dinner, dance to live music in the Splendido's elegant piano bar.

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