Just back from a wonderful weekend in Italy to celebrate Justin's 40th. He had no idea we were coming because as far as he was aware, I am covering the Cannes Film Festival at the moment (luckily J never questions anything so didn't realise it actually starts next week!)
We kept in touch with my cousin Michael by text and arrived at Sestri Levante, just down the coast from Portofino to find them wandering along the beach. We managed to creep right up on him and he nearly fell over with surprise. It was a really lovely moment and set the scene for the six of us having a fab weekend.
We explored Santa Margherita Ligure, Sestri Levante and Rapallo, which have a real charm about them. Lots of bright ice cream colours on all the buildings and a very olde worlde seaside feel to the towns. The highlight was Portofino - a place on my must-see list for years now and I wasn't disappointed. Very upscale on the shopping front -Louis Vuitton is the first shop you see as you step off the boat - and so pretty but also very friendly. The people watching is superb, we sat for ages sipping Prosecco on the port and umming and aaahing at all the bling!
One night we ended up at Da Beppe, a family run little restaurant in Santa Margherita, where the food just kept on coming at you. Octopus and potato salad, huge mussels, a whole seabass in Genovese sauce of parsley, garlic and olive oil, the list goes on.
The big family party opposite us must have had seven courses and at the end, a guitarist and singer struck up on their table and gave the most amazing impromptu performance of lots of old Italian songs as well as My Way (which got us all singing, much their amusement and they gave us a big round of applause at the end of it!)
The best bit is that door to door, it is just three hours away, which would have got us to Bournemouth in one direction or Skegness in the other a year ago in the UK! The girls were babysitting the outlaws ( a term of endearment Jean, honest!) and despite the fact that they were stranded at the house with no transport, peace reigned all weekend.