Party in Portofino

Posted by on Sep 18, 2013 in Featured, Italy | 6 comments

This post should be titled “Thank you Ali and Zach for getting married in Italy.”  Yes, due to the union of two of my good friends, I was able to trade my dri-fit t-shirts and shared-bathroom guesthouses for cocktail dresses and 5-star accommodations.  I felt like I was on a luxury vacation within my year of long term travel.  It….was…..AWESOME!

Mike and I have really enjoyed our brand of travel from day one: uncomplicated and off the beaten path.  We have loved spending time together exploring the world. However, this several day wedding extravaganza in northern Italy was the perfect way to reconnect with friends (several of my best girlfriends from college made the trip), explore the Italian Riviera, and enjoy the finer things in life.

After spending a night wine tasting in the Piedmont region with our friends Shawna and Dan, Mike and I hopped a ride with them to the sparkling Italian Riviera. We had been to Cinque Terre on our honeymoon and were eager to go back, but also excited to explore some of the other towns in the region. Our home base for the week was Rapallo, one of the larger cities dotting the coast.  As Mike and I checked in to the only five star hotel in town, I couldn’t help but chuckle as we watched the polished bellhops lug our worn backpacks up to our room.  I, however, was in seventh heaven to be in such a picturesque setting surrounded by my dearest friends.  And, one of the best things about our time spent in the Italian Riviera is that I did not have to plan one thing!  The bride and groom had spent months crafting the perfect experience for their guests and I was happily along for the ride.

Due to my lack of involvement in the planning (and probably the copious amounts of “vino rosso” consumed during the week), I do not have a lot of insightful observations about my time in Northern Italy.  There are probably cute nooks and fabulous towns that I didn’t get a chance to visit.  But Ali and Zach made it possible for us to experience some highlights during different events.  

Even though we based in Rapallo, I did not explore the town much other than an enjoyable jog by the water.  We instead spent most of our time cocktailing (is that a verb?) at the hotel and sunning at the Excelsior Palace Beach Club.  I should note that beach is a loose term here…it is rare to find sand on the Italian Riviera beaches.  Rather, picture a concrete/stone area jutting out into the sea with direct access to the water and stunning views.  I don’t know if it was the salt water, seemingly endless amounts of sunshine, or the hours of chit chat with my friends, but my time spent on the “beach” had a calming effect on me.  

In direct juxtaposition to the peaceful days spent sun worshipping were the wild night events.  Whether we were at the Santa Beach Club in Santa Margherita Ligure or joining the wedding party for post rehearsal dinner drinks in Portofino there was no shortage of fellowship, champagne (often being sprayed on your head from a fellow rowdy guest), and generosity.  The bride and groom (and their families) arranged for countless meals, drinks, and entertainment so there was zero excuse to go to sleep before 3 am.  

After a few nights of such revelry, I was actually excited to engage in a sporty day activity…a ferry and hike through glorious Cinque Terre.  Cinque Terre is, hands down, one of my favorite places on earth. Our day spent hiking between the five rustic towns only reaffirmed Mike and I’s love for this area. Every view is worth a picture yet the towns themselves are unassuming. We sweat out the booze of the previous days while hiking and even had the chance to sample the local pesto and gelato.  Our group of ten decided to stop at a restaurant in Corniglia to try the seafood risotto that some of our friends had been talking about from a previous trip.  We each hungrily ordered the dish only to find out that, even though the risotto was featured on the menu, we were unable to get it for some unknown reason. After we demanded the risotto be cooked (after all, we did travel all the way from the US of A to taste it), the Italian chef agreed to make us a pot.  This sums up why I love Italy.  Sometimes even the simplest of tasks are difficult and require a stern raised voice.  But, in the end, you are rewarded with delicious food and an unforgettable experience.

Yet, while clubbing until the wee hours and hiking Cinque Terre were incredibly memorable and fun, nothing compared to the main event.  The wedding itself was the experience of a lifetime.  Set at La Cervara, a former abbey on the coast (also place of Rod Stewart’s 2007 wedding…I mean come ON), the majestic setting was only matched by the overall ambiance created by the hosts.  We feasted on delicious food (including a full cheese bar), sipped the most quality cocktails, and danced our hearts out.  There was entertainment around every corner -a cirque du soleil-esque dancer suspended from a crane as we were walking into the ceremony, fire dancers, multiple bands, and a private fireworks display.  

I am so happy to have been a part of the week in northern Italy.  If I did not have the pictures to prove I was there, I might not believe it even happened.  The ability to reconnect with friends in such a luxurious setting was incredible.  And whenever I am being extra thrifty or staying in sub par accommodations on our trip, I will fondly remember our party in Portofino.



  1. Your amazing journey just keeps getting better. Sounds like you were treated like royalty. Love and miss you both.

  2. #doublepasta

  3. What a beautiful part of the world. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. You guys are getting awfully fancy with the alliteration these days! This looked awesome.

  5. What an experience! Amazing. I can’t even imagine how cool that must have been. What a blessing.

  6. #swimbuddies

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