Thanks to my mom, I grew up watching a lot of 50's and 60's movies. Come, September (Rock Hudson, Gina Lollobrigida) was distinctly the first time I was exposed to the Italian Riviera, which is where the movie is set. Decades later, as an adult and with my own Rock Hudson in tote, I got to see the Ligurian coast in person.
We stayed in Rapallo, which is a laid-back town on the coast that, we're told, is where the Italians go on holiday. From there we did a day trip to Portofino and Santa Margherita. Portofino is just as vibrant and colorful as I expected, but with the overwhelming energy that comes with an exorbitant amount tourists overrunning any small town. Based on a friend's recommendation, we went to Ristorante Puny where I had the Penne alla Puny and Graham had the Carne Pizzaiola.
Just outside of Portofino is Baia di Paraggi, which has villas with direct access to the water. There were little boats strewn around this bay with people soaking in the rays and views.
Next stop, Santa Margherita. We didn't stay long here except to snap a couple pictures and consume our daily serving of gelato. Just as colorful as Portofino, but with the beach and promenade. While it was crowded, it didn't have the same claustrophobic atmosphere as Portofino given its layout.
On our last day, we stopped by Sestri Levante before heading to our next stop, Cinque Terre. While we didn't have time to take advantage of the beach (we were told by locals that it was the best beach in the area), we really enjoyed a slow stroll through town.