Despite the fact I live only 160 km from the Italian border, I was never truly drawn to visit its many tourist hotspots. I always migrated north, to the UK and Scandinavia, or alternatively to Mediterranean islands. That was until I switched the channel on the TV one night and found myself being hypnotised by the voice of the one and only Andrea Bocelli, singing in the harbour of Portofino. The very typical colourful seaside houses created a perfect backdrop for the Italian lyrics, sung in cashmere voice. It was nothing short of a summer night fairy-tale, the perfect little spot to drink a glass of wine under the stars with a light warm breeze messing up your sun-kissed hair.
From Portofino to Portopiccolo
With Portofino now on my bucket list, only months later I stumbled upon a news article on an ambitious project near Trieste that took me back to that picturesque harbour, lined by pastel houses with moonlight bouncing on the sea’s surface. The Portopiccolo resort is actually a large residential and tourist development that transformed an old quarry into a luxurious seaside destination that embodies the typical Italian ‘porto’ atmosphere that I initially loved about Portofino.
No Traffic, Easy Access
With the entire complex being built artificially from scratch, the investors had the opportunity to create a truly modern, green and lavish resort while remaining in synergy with the local culture, architecture and nature. There’s no traffic in Portopiccolo, but you won’t have to walk more than a few steps from your car to the streets of the small town – all traffic is restricted to underground garages with 1220 parking spaces that can be accessed by elevators, perfectly hidden in the traditional looking houses. If you’re staying at its only hotel, that is, of course, 5-star rated and located in the very harbour of the town, you’ll park in a garage directly in front of the hotel entrance, providing you with complete privacy and comfort in any weather. The rest of the garages are intended either for visitors or residents and parking is actually quite cheap at 1 or 1,50 EUR per hour (free outside of the season), although I imagine it can get quite crowded during the summer months.
Sleep in Style
I recommend splashing out on at least one night at the Falisia Luxury Resort. Prices out of season are relatively affordable, starting at around 170 EUR per room (they can rise well over 500 EUR in the summer) and the hotel, as well as its staff and services, are truly exceptional. During our first stay, we got a free upgrade to the Deluxe room that was absolutely huge – much larger than the regular King room as I later learned. Every detail was done to perfection – welcome cookies waiting for us on the table, wine glasses and a cocktail shaker accompanying a coffee maker next to the mini bar, a complimentary umbrella and satin-covered hangers hiding in the closet, luxurious bathrobes and slipper to make ourselves all snuggly and of course, perfectly designed modern luxury décor.
Guests are served a delicious breakfast with a-la-carte choices such as eggs benedict and fresh juices, have free access to a spa and a gym, as well as business facilities. This month the resort will also open a brand new spa with a large pool area and saunas, while in the summer hotel guests have complimentary access to the gorgeous beach club area with an infinity pool rising above the pebbled beach.
The resort offers quite a few places to eat lunch or dinner, have a cup of coffee and a scoop of gelato and even shop for some designer goods. During the winter you can choose between the hotel restaurant Cliff and the L’Oro di Napoli pizzeria for lunch and dinner and the resort opens two more restaurants – Maxi’s and Bris as the days get warmer. The hotel bar and the nearby coffee shop, as well as the Pek bakery, are open year-round, while the beach club areas and gelaterias open in the spring or summer. Just a quick tip – coffee at the hotel bar will set you back twice as much as coffee at the coffee shop just a few meters away.
Hitting the Beach
Accessing the beach is essentially free of charge, however, you cannot bring your own loungers or umbrellas, meaning you need to rent them at the resort. If you plan on staying at the beach, the rates are around 35 EUR for an entire set (2 loungers and an umbrella) on weekdays and 50 on weekends, however, if you wish to access the beach club areas and the pool (including showers and changing rooms), a set will set you back 40 EUR on weekdays and 70 on weekends and a gazebo with a private changing room 60 or 130 EUR. There are also changing rooms with private showers or toilets at an additional charge. Prices are a bit higher between August 6th and 21st.