Having been spoilt by the beautiful scenery and gorgeous towns on the St Tropez gulf, the Italian Riviera had a lot to live up to and we weren’t sure what to expect. We haven’t done much boat travel during the European leg of the trip so decided to visit the nearby attractions by ferry, buying a hop-on hop-off pass.
We cycled to the port in Rapallo for the first departure at 10am and already we could feel the burn from the sun.
The busy road into town was narrow and full of stop-start traffic which made progress difficult. In comparison to France, drivers are less accommodating of cyclists here and overtake in the tightest of places which is unnerving. Almost all the parked cars have major dents and scratches on them which tells you everything.
We took the ferry to San Fruttuoso, the furthest point away on our itinerary and massively enjoyed the journey. We passed quaint lighthouses and majestic villas perched precariously upon craggy hilltops.
San Fruttuoso is tucked away from sight in a tiny inlet and is blissfully isolated. It’s only accessible by foot or boat and is a tiny gem hidden along the coast.
San Fruttuoso is no more than a small pebbly beach, a Benedictine abbey and a couple of restaurants but it is picture perfect.
We wandered along the coastal path to get lovely views of the hamlet and beach below and Gary dived into the inviting aqua sea for a refreshing dip.
Our next stop was Portofino, a famous destination for jet setters in super yachts. As we approached the harbour the views of colourful buildings and pure blue sky were simply stunning.
The fancy boutiques and romantic bistros lining the harbour front gleaned in the sun and oozed effortless chic. We strolled around the town which was buzzing with activity and had a beautiful lunch overlooking the beach.
Portofino is undeniably exquisitely handsome and classy but is extremely compact and in comparison to Saint Tropez has slightly less character in my opinion.
We were surprised by the huge amount of trompe l’oeil painted on all the buildings that gave the town an almost too perfect facade. It was really interesting to visit a place of such fame though and see it for ourselves.
We hopped back on the ferry in the late afternoon, headed for our final seaside spot of the day. Santa Margherita is wonderfully charming with a lovely promenade, pastel coloured buildings and manicured gardens and fountains. We were so hot and tired from the last leg of the journey that we headed straight to the beach and into the sea. It’s so nice to see so many people enjoying the weather and the beach was crammed with families having a ball. We fell asleep on the pebble shoreline within seconds of coming out of the sea and laying down to dry off. It was either the sun or the bottle of wine we shared over lunch but thankfully we woke up with enough time to scramble our stuff together and catch the last ferry back to Rapallo. Relieved to find our bikes still where we left them we cycled back to the campsite weary but happy travellers.