This is where the real Italians go for holidays! From the working classes with the Vespas to the Germans with the towels. It’s baking hot and every semi naked body is glistering with beads of sweat, browning up like sardines on the rocks of this small, but populated side of the railway beach.
It doesn’t sound too good does it? I don’t want it to because I don’t want you there – this is best kept a secret and I kid you not, once you get into the spirit of Portoghetto you can never be the same again – it would be like you had somehow stepped into a soul of an Italian.
Portoghetto is a little beach down by the side of a beautiful village called Cervo – it means ‘Deer’. (The nearest railway station is Cervo or Diano Marina) Cervo is an old musical village with sea facing views on one side and hilly olive groves on the other. The mystique and romanticism of the place is of postcards and old movies and are of what dreams are made of with its many nooks and crannies and little cobble paths.
This is where the Italians come to feel well. This is where you get to be the most carefree, happy, inspired and brown person with the wonderful tanned feet and shinny white nails. ‘Buon Giorno’ you and you and you…
In July and August, there are many live concerts on San Giovanni Plaza by The Giovanni Battista (a beautiful grand church), outside the home of the late Sandor Vegh – great conductor and violinist of the Vegh Quartet. Many classical musicians come here to play concerts in honour of what he founded to be a must-hear in all classical enthusiasts’ agenda.
Music as the sun draws low and the moon shines. Then off to one of the many great restaurants or is it too early for supper? Perhaps a little skinny dippy in the portoghetti with an aperitivo at the beach café/ bar beforehand? Of course!
There are many restaurants in Cervo – San Giorgio – one of its finest with its stunning menu of greatest Italian delights (the owner has lots of cats) where you would eat the greatest meal of your life and there is the famous, animated and charismatic Sarafino – named after the pot belly, long Cesar nosed chef and owner who walks around like the gentlest godfather of them all (has the finest and best ice cream in the world) with a stunningly breathtaking sea view. Other than that, as a side order, – how about having the hairs on your arm magnetize north with the electrical thunderstorms tearing away mushrooms of clouds in the sky.
After dinner, what best to do than to hang out on the square, or if you are lucky, your balcony or roof terrace as you wait for the slight breeze to quench your heat and drink grappa and count the stars.
The mornings offer great sun (so does all of the day), the kids, the grannies and granddads are plonking themselves feet first into the cold clear, turquoise water. You can dive, snorkel and see sea urchins, and fishies of all sorts darting away as you sliver by with your fins and be amazed by Portoghetto’s rocks and seaweed. The clean, crisp water of the Mediterranean cleanses any pore of sadness or worries from your real life.
As you lay to bathe on a rock you’ve claimed for the day, comes out a great summer book, then you fall asleep because its so hot, then you jump into the water again, then you talk to your companion(s) and then you go up to the beach bar and you get the greatest apple pie you’ve ever eaten and you eat tomatoes and mozzarella and simplest but the most moorish Italian food.
The sounds of laughter and natter linger in the salty air become notes of music to your ear as the waves crash lazily onto the rock shore. Once in a while, someone sprints past, splash large droplets of cold sea onto your leg and all you want to do is go into the water again.
You can easily do this over and over and over again and come back year after year. This is where you get to live a simple existence and realize what the Italians are on about with this –‘La Dolce Vita’.
A great holiday. And always will be. Over and Over.