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Italy Entices: Portofino’s Hotel Splendido

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By J.S. Fletcher and Kathy M. Newbern ©2013
(Part 2 in a series)

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In our last story, we wrote about Venice and the Hotel Cipriani. Now we travel north to Portofino.

This boot-shaped peninsula positioned between the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west and the Adriatic on the east draws visitors with its art, culture, history, food, wine, music, weather and, of course, for romance.

Even the word “romance” traces its root to the Latin for “in the Roman manner.” Roma, being Italian for Rome.

Romeo and Juliet, the poster children for love resided here, at least in Shakespeare’s imagination.

The choices for your dream Italian escape are extensive. In this series, we’ll be presenting key locations paired with some of the best properties Italy has to offer.

Portofino’s Hotel Splendido

If you’re looking for a magical, fairy-tale setting for your honeymoon or romantic getaway, Portofino on the northwest coast of Italy is for you. The twinkling white lights lining the rooftops of the pastel houses, shops and restaurants along the harbor at night are a sight to remember. Then again, so are the ancient cobblestone streets leading to a crescent-shaped, compact harbor that attracts not only tenders from cruise ships anchored offshore but luxury mega yachts, glamorous tall ships from everywhere in the world, and a fleet of fishing boats used by families who have worked the local waters for generations.

The allure is literally topped off with the medieval castle on the hill above the village. Castello Brown is named for Yeats Brown, the British Consul from 1876-1949, but it likely dates back to Roman times. Documentation says that in 1432, the castle saved Portofino from attack. Today it’s a public museum with period furnishings, original artwork and photos of celebrities who have graced the local treasure.

Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart and Winston Churchill visited, and it’s likely they stayed at the utterly luxurious Hotel Splendido, an Orient-Express property on the hillside overlooking the harbor.

Everything about the Splendido says glamour: views of the azure waters of Portofino Bay below and the sea beyond are complemented by the brilliant blue infinity pool and the surrounding lush landscaping of palm trees and countess flowers. Perhaps the piece de resistance is the immense wisteria vine that winds its way around the balconies of the hotel, particularly resplendent in spring when it blooms.

A special indulgence is a “Garden Massage” set up at the Wellness Center Spa. Particularly romantic is arranging for your treatment to be held at a private section of the terraced gardens where flowers will surround you as your body is soothed and pampered.

The resort’s thick “Golden Book” of guests is a real slice of history. Autographs and notes are not only entertaining to read but impressive, like the page signed by Ava Gardner, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, in town filming “The Barefoot Contessa.” The list of then-and-now superstars is too massive to list. (A quick “now” sampling includes Madonna, Sting, Billy Joel, Steven Spielberg, U2’s Bono.)

At night, your suite’s balcony is a haven unto itself as live music under the stars fills the air when the pianist on La Terrazza below breaks into old favorites like “Isn’t It Romantic?”

As the locals say: “Si, si, si.”

By the way, Splendido Mare, the smaller sister property of the grand, hillside Hotel Splendido, is set just feet away from the water in the midst of Portofino’s bustling scene comprised of locals mixing with tourists. From the windows of a harbor-side suite in this tony property, you can watch the world come to a magical place to bask in a way of life that’s drawn travelers for millennia.

If you can’t get to Italy but are looking for a little taste of the Italian culture, consider taking an armchair vacation in YourNovel’s personalized book: Rome: Diamonds, Danger, and Desire. Personalized, yes. You star in the book, which is a sexy European adventure of a lifetime, where the starring male takes on the role of a lifetime — secret agent. He and his special lady look the part, too, zipping along Rome’s crowded streets in a cool Ferrari and hanging out with mysterious types, including a sultan who plans to purchase the world’s most perfect diamond.

If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other stories by Newbern and Fletcher
• Other Stories by JS Fletcher,
• Stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Luxury Travel Examiner
International Travel Examiners J.S. Fletcher and spouse, Kathy M. Newbern, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created and, their personalized romance novel business.



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