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Portofino and Paraggi Beach
Chic Portofino is one of the most exclusive resorts in Italy - indeed in Europe. This once inaccessible fishing village has been attracting visitors ever since the late 19th century. By the 1950s it was a favourite haunt of the international jet set and everyone from the Duke of Windsor to Frank Sinatra and Brigitte Bardot came here. Portofino is still a favourite haunt of celebrities, as well as day trippers. The heart of the village is the picturesque harbour, surrounded by colourful old fishermen's houses. The resort gets extremely busy in the summer and at weekends, with visitors who come to shop, eat, relax - and spot celebrities. However, it is easy to escape the crowds with walks across the tranquil headland.
There is no beach at Portofino itself, which is characterised by its stunning harbour. However Paraggi, just a few minutes' drive along the coast, has a sandy cove surrounded by bars and hotels, where you can sunbathe and acquire a Hollywood-style tan.
Beyond the beach:
Take a boat trip along the coast to San Fruttuoso. This secluded bay is dominated by a medieval Abbey which has recently been restored and is open to visitors. This spot is a favourite with divers too, as the sea around Portofino is a marine reserve. Under the waters of San Fruttuoso bay is a statue: Christ of the Deep. Another option is to take a lazy walk from Portofino to the tip of the headland to visit 16th-century Castle Brown, a fortress that offers superb views of the peninsula.
Portofino isn't an obvious family resort as it is more geared to style-loving couples wanting a quiet break - as is the secluded sandy beach at nearby Paraggi. Older kids will enjoy the boat trips and the chance to spot celebrities sunbathing on yachts moored in the harbour.
Genoa, about 30 minutes' drive west from Portofino, is a lively city with plenty of attractions for all the family - including the stunning aquarium in the regenerated port. To the east is the clutch of picturesque fishing villages known as the Cinque Terre, a high point on any tourist itinerary.
The top place for a decadent night out is the Hotel Splendido (Salita Baratta 16), the most exclusive in Portofino. This is the place to see and be seen, whether you are having a drink in the elegant piano bar or dining in one of its excellent restaurants.