Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy "Suggestion for Best Winter Trips"
Photograph by Steven Gillis HD9 Imaging/Alamy
Portofino may be the jewel of the Liguria Riviera, but neighboring Santa Margherita Ligure is an equally captivating—and more affordable—gem. Ensconced in a rocky inlet on the Gulf of Tigullio, the small, relaxed resort town enjoys mild winters—ideal for strolling past the gleaming yachts and cruisers moored in the harbor, touring the terraced gardens of 16th-centuryVilla Durazzo, and hiking the mountain road to Portofino for lunch (and for the spectacular coastal vistas along the way).
When to Go: February and March; February 2, International Half-Marathon of Two Pearls
How to Get Around: The closest airport is in Genoa. Take the shuttle bus or a taxi to the train station. From Genoa, it’s only a 25-minute (high-speed) or 35-minute (regional) train ride to Santa Margherita.
Where to Stay: Built in 1903 and restored to its original splendor, the 84-roomGrand Hotel Miramare on the harbor-front promenade is old school Italian Riviera: white stucco; art nouveau facade frescoed with trompe l'oeil and floral decorations; elegantly appointed interiors; and stately, manicured gardens. Walk from here to Portofino (about an hour) or to the train station (about a half mile).
What to Eat or Drink: Sample some of the smaller restaurants off the main square and near the port. La Paranza serves the day’s fresh catch (clams, mussels, squid, sardines) paired with homemade pastas (try the gnocchi) and desserts. At about $40, the three-course set menu is extremely affordable by Riviera standards, and filling, too.
What to Watch Before You Go: Academy Award-nominated Enchanted April(1992) is set on the Italian Riviera and includes several exquisite scenes shot in and around Portofino.
Fun Fact: Guglielmo Marconi used to moor his yacht l'Elettra (the Electra) in the Santa Margherita harbor, stay in the Grand Hotel Miramare, and conduct short-wave radio experiments between the two. A plaque inside the hotel commemorates Marconi’s first shore-to-ship broadcast of telegraph and radio telephone signals in 1933.