Santa Margherita (for Portofino) Cruises, Italy
- Get that postcard-perfect photo of Portofino from the hilltop castle. Castello Brown was snapped up by a British diplomat in the 19th century, so the Neo-Gothic interiors are impressive, too.
- Dive down to the Christ of the Abyss. This underwater statue of Jesus is submerged near the secluded San Fruttuoso Bay, which is overlooked by a Catholic abbey.
- Go shopping along Piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta. For a village with less than 500 residents, this place has the designer shops to rival Rome. Think Dior, Longchamp and Louis Vuitton.
SHORE EXCURSIONS View all excursions
Two of this region’s prettiest coastal towns are on the agenda today. You’ll start things off with a ferry ride over to Portofino, a multi-coloured hamlet that’s a popular holiday spot with celebrities and artists. When you disembark at the marina, your guide will point out some of the must-see sights. Then you’re free to go where you want. A good place to start’s the hilltop Castello Brown, a castle-turned-museum that was built in the 15th century. From up here you can see out over the entire town. Down near the marina, meanwhile, you can wander around high-end shops selling brands like Gucci. And go for a plate of traditionally made focaccia bread in one of the cafés. Afterwards, you’ll hop back on the boat and return to Santa Margherita. Again, you’ll have some free time to see and do what you want. The stand-out attraction here’s the ancient fortress. It was built in 1550 to protect the town from pirates. These days its observation tower serves up some of the best views around.
Time for a bit of Gothic romance – this trip takes in the best history, art and culture along the Tigullian Gulf. First up is the Basilica di San Salvatore dei Fieschi, a great example of Gothic architecture. Make sure you look up as you go in – there’s a fresco above the door dating back to the 15th century. Next on the list is Sestri Levante. This little spot has been popular for hundreds of years thanks to its postcard-worthy looks. In fact, it was a favourite haunt with early Renaissance poets. We’ll visit Fable Bay and Silence Bay, before a visit to Santa Maria di Nazareth. The altar at this church is surrounded by intricate sculptures of the Virgin Mary and cherubs. There’s also some time to explore the town at your own pace, but if you’d like more time here, this trip can also be taken as a full day. Rounding things off, we’ll head back along the famed Golden Sun Road, where dazzling blue water and bougainvillaea line the route.
Known as La Superba - the superb one - Genoa lives up to its name. A jumble of narrow alleys, the city centre is best explored on foot. Admire the intricately painted façade of St George’s Palace, or dream of discovering new lands at Christopher Columbus’ house. And try not to get soaked by the huge fountain in Piazza de Ferrari. All this is just the tip of the iceberg, though, as we’ll also stop off at the humbug-striped San Lorenzo Cathedral and take a drive up Carignano Hill. Looking down over Genoa, the views from here are superb. Factor in around half an hour of free time to explore on your own and you’ve got a real sightseeing pick and mix.