Portofino Help

We are travelling to Italy next June and need some help. We've been to Italy many times before but not in this area. We will be flying into Milan and spending a few nights afterwhich we would like to travel to the Portofino area. How do we get from Milan to Portofini. We don't want to go on another plane. After we get to Portofino can be take day trips to Cinque Terre and Genoa or would it be better to stay the night in these places, i.e., Cinque Terre and Genoa. Also is Pisa worth a trip to see the leaning tower as the map shows that it is pretty close. We will be flying back to the states from Milan at the end of our trip. Thank you so much. Daughter and Me

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
569 posts

Hi Carol, Everything you have on your list can easily be reached by train. If I recall, there aren't trains directly into Portofino...you have to go to Santa Margherita Ligure and then take a taxi or the bus. It's only a few miles and very easy to do. I loved Portofino...very beautiful and walkable. The paths up through the olive orchards are wonderful to wander and it's fun to look at all of the ridiculously over-the-top yachts that are anchored in the town's tiny port. Rent the movie "Enchanted April" before you go...it was filmed in Portofino and the small castle they used sits above the entrance to the harbor. There used to be art shows in the castle but I'm not sure what it is used for now. Portofino is a great base to explore the Cinque Terre. We spent four days based there and did everything...we hiked the path connecting the towns and visited all of them as well as the tiny village, San Fruttuoso, that you can only reach by boat from Portofino. Had one of the best plates of pasta in my life at the little restaurant there! It is famous for an underwater statue of Jesus that is just offshore. The shore there is great for swimming too! Is there something specific you want to do in Genoa because, if not, there just really isn't anything there. It's a very gritty port town that isn't tourist friendly. Pisa is interesting only for the tower and the beautiful church it adjoins. The church is actually more interesting than the tower! Other than those two things though there isn't anything else there except lots of trinket shops. We went just because we wanted to see the tower but if I had to do it again I probably wouldn't.
Enjoy your trip and good luck!

Posted by Carol
porter ranch, ca, USA
40 posts

Thank you for your wonderful response. So was travelling (walking)around Cinque Terre a day trip from Portofini. It sounds as if it was but I'm not sure. Also, what about Pisa was that a day trip as well. Your suggested movie will be on my list to get. We're going to take your suggestion about Genoa. I was starting to think the same. Do you remember the name of the restaurant with the great pasta. Last question...how many days did you spend in and around Portofino. Thanks again.

Posted by George
Canada
823 posts

Anita "Genoa ... a very gritty port town that isn't tourist friendly" You're absolutely correct, but I really enjoyed our day there - that gritty edge really appealed to me! And now that I've thought about it more, I enjoyed the day in Genoa way more than the 2 days in the over-touristed Portofino/SML area - and that trip was in the early 90s.

Posted by Linda
Bromley, Kent,, UK
1631 posts

Genoa is well worth a visit. We took a 4 night holiday there last September and plan to revisit to finish off our sightseeing. As with any port city there will be areas you should not visit but that is not the whole story. We stayed up by Piazza de Ferrari which is a very pleasant part of the city and walked everywhere. It is within 10 minutes walk of the now renovated old port area. The city has many beautiful buildings (including an area designated as a World Heritage Site), churches and museums. North Americans with Italian ancestry should find the exhibition of emigration through Genoa in the MUMA Galata Museum of the Sea interesting. http://www.turismo.comune.genova.it/spip.php?rubrique60 PS - we found the people we dealt with friendly and helpful. They seemed pleased at our interest in their city.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17779 posts

Carol, The trip from Milan to Portofino is actually quite straight forward, but will take some time. You'll first take the train from Milano Centrale to S. Margherita Ligure-Portofino. Travel time will be 2-3 hours, depending on which train you choose. There's a direct train departing at 08:10, which is probably the one I'd use. There is no air service from Milan to Portofino. If any of your rail trips will be on Regionale trains, DON'T forget to validate! When you arrive at S. Margherita, buy a boat ticket at the small Bar behind the station. You'll then need to walk down the big stairway to the harbour and walk to the boat docks. As I recall that will take about 15 minutes. Of course, you could also use a Taxi. The boats run fairly frequently (once an hour?), and the trip to Portofino is about 20 minutes. The boat will arrive in the small harbour, as shown here. You could take day trips from Portofino to the Cinque Terre, but it's not an ideal method. You'd first have to get from Portofino to the station at S. Margherita Ligure and then to the C.T. The trip to Monterosso is only about an hour, but with waiting times and so on, travel will probably take at least two hours in each direction. IMO, it would be better to spend a few nights in the C.T. where you can explore the five towns better. Depending on the length of your trip, I'd skip Genoa as the time would be better spent elsewhere. If it's important, a brief stop at Pisa should be possible. For researching rail journeys in Italy, the Trenitalia website is usually the one I use. You won't be able to see trips far in the future though. Happy travels!

Posted by Anita
Long Beach, California, USA
569 posts

Hi again...
We were there a total of 4 days and the Cinque Terre was an easy day trip. We went to a different town or two each day. The trip to Pisa was on the way somewhere else and it made for a VERY long day. One of the other posters said that they found Portofino touristy and, yes, the main part of town is. Get off the beaten track though and just walk up through the olive groves and up the back streets and you'll easily leave the crowds behind. That's true of any town anywhere! I honestly don't remember the name of the restaurant we ate at but as you enter the harbor, it's up to the left with a "portico" overlooking the harbor.

Posted by Carol
porter ranch, ca, USA
40 posts

Thanks again. After reading your post we were thinking that maybe we would only make two trips to Cinque Terre because we really want to soak up Portofino. We plan on staying six nights in Portofino. What do you think should we attempt to see all five towns on two day trips or just pick two of the five towns so as not to become overwhelmed. If you were only going to pick two which two would you pick? Thanks again!!