There’s no shortage of beauty in Portofino, nor a lack of delicious bites to be devoured. The best combination of the two, however, is at the incredible Hotel Splendido.
On Windstar’s shore excursion, Splendido Olive Oil & Lunch, you are whisked away from the main square of Portofino by minivan shuttle to the stunning Belmond Hotel Splendido, a glamorous retreat set overlooking the picture-perfect harbour of Portofino. You’re allowed to roam the lush grounds of the property while being served Bellini cocktails and delicious passed and stationed appetizers, including fried anchovies, squash blossoms, local olives, almonds, and more. The only thing that can steal your eyes away from the private yachts below is the promise of seeing a celebrity lounging by the pool. This is the sort of place you’re visiting.
Known for its superb Italian cuisine, you know you are in good hands when seated on the hotel’s patio for lunch and a brief demonstration by the maître d’, who walks you through a tasting of different types of olive oil. Who knew the flavors could be so distinct and unique? You try each again and note to buy a better variety next time at your home supermarket…
The most gorgeous bruschetta is then served with fat, juicy mozzarella balanced atop fresh tomatoes and grilled bread, followed by a traditional trofie (pasta) with pesto sauce. An olive oil sorbet with hazelnut brittle then appears atop a citrus ring of Italian ice. White wine and mineral water are continually refilled throughout the lunch, making you guess how much of each you have consumed, and coffee/tea round up the perfect dining experience.
You ponder retuning by minivan to the harbor to enjoy the rest of the day, and you briefly consider the 15 minute leisurely walk back to Portofino, before a fellow guest suggests an alternate path. It may be the white wine talking, but you accept this proposal to hike from the Hotel Splendido to San Fruttuoso Abbey, a seashore monastery in a hidden cove near Portofino. The two hour hike (at times a mere walk) meanders along the coastline, exposing impossibly beautiful vistas at each turn. You arrive at the abbey just in time to catch the last 15-minute ferry ride back to Portofino, marveling at your luck.
It just may be the perfect day in the Italian Riviera.
This excursion is available on Yachting the Riviera and Glitter & Glam of the Rivieras.