There’s nothing like having a guest to get you out and about. Portofino is generally not on our list of go-to places (think Disneyland Makes an Italian Fishing Village), but it is on the list of pretty much everyone who comes to visit. And in fact, it is well worth visiting because, touristy as it is, it still looks like a charming little fishing village.

Guest and I wanted particularly to take the ferry from Rapallo to Portofino, because it is such a pretty way to see that stretch of coast. But the weather has been cruel the past two weeks; as soon as the rain stops, which has been infrequently, the wind picks up and the ferry suspends operations. Finally, in desperation, we gave up the ferry notion and just drove the scooters out – which is also a pleasure because the coast road is deliciously windy, and is one of the most famous short stretches of road in Italy. And we learned something worth knowing.  The reason it always looks like Portofino is sunnier and warmer than our hillside home is because it is!

If you haven’t been to Portofino in as a long a time as it’s been for me, you too might be surprised to see the several amusing additions to the sculpture garden above the port. I’m not quite sure what they mean, but they are very funny.

Why a rhino? Beats me. And why is he hanging from straps? Maybe he just dropped in? Or… well, I was going to suggest something slightly off-color, so excuse me if I don’t finish that sentence.

Meerkats. Not only is this mob much larger than life, they are also, obviously, much pinker, and very, very far from their usual home.

Having pooh-poohed Portofino for years as nothing more than a tourist trap I got my comeuppance on this recent visit.  Turns out it still is a quaint little fishing village.  We saw a group of four men working with ropes (couldn’t resist skipping over them, men not amused) as well as this fisherman mending his nets.  He resignedly agreed to my request to take his picture and admitted that yes, it’s a request he receives pretty often.  But he couldn’t have been nicer about it.  He uses his mouth to stiffen the string which runs along a sort of large wooden needle.  Looks like very fussy work to me, but he made nice even stitches.  He said he was a native of Portofino, born and raised.  When he was a lad the town had a full time population of about 1,200.  Now it is somewhere between 300-500, the rest of the property having been purchased by ‘Milanese’ (which is northern Italian for anyone from outside who comes to your town to buy property.  It is most usually used with the adjective ‘ricco.’)

I guess it’s good to get your assumptions shaken up a bit now and then…  guess I’ll have to visit Portofino more often.  I got to see animals way out of context, and I learned that sometimes things are what they seem.