Last year, my buddy Tabs went to the Amalfi Coast.
|Source - Tabitha, Queen of Scots|
Me, not so much...
However, at the tail end of our trip to Florida, we decided to hit Universal Studios, as none of our travelling companions had been to the recreated world of Harry Potter and we decided to right that wrong. As an aside, we walked through all of these parks as if we were magic itself; thanks to my planning and the odd bit of bizarre luck, we waited for no rides. Ah may the odds be ever in your favour, Wendy...
But back to Portofino...
When I saw it online, I felt this was the kind of place I might delight in and I was not disappointed:
The whole inner courtyard is designed to recreate the Portofino harbour:
|Ain't nothing like the real thing baby...|
|but fake isn't so bad...|
It was all very civilized - bars tucked here and there, outdoor pools with sandy beaches, a boat that took you along a canal to Universal Studios.
The inherent flaw of this antiseptic homage to Italians is that the resort lacks, well, Italians. Having said that, this was no Disney feeling - people were mostly dressed up for their fine dining.
There are two main restaurants on site: Bice and Mama Della's.
We ate at the former on night one and the latter on our last night in Florida, which turned out to be the perfect choice.
Bice was expensive, but we stuck to pasta and wine and by this point in the trip, were well over our budget anyhow...
The décor was elegant, the service sublime.
But the treat was night number two at Mama Della's.
You walk into the restaurant, and feel like you are walking into an old house:
The food was wonderful, excellent services again, but the best part for us all was the entertainment.
Every night, the Portofino Bay Resort has opera singers come out onto the balcony overlooking the harbour and sing for half an hour. Afterwards, they come into the restaurant and go from table to table asking for requests.
I asked for Nessun dorma and was not disappointed. It was a gooseflesh moment: eating good food, drinking chianti, being with the people I love best in the world, and listening to opera. It mad me think of my mother, whose favourite radio show was Saturday Afternoon at the Opera. Her cousin, whom I have never met, was ballet doyenne Sally Brayley Bliss, and married to Tony Bliss, who was Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera. My mother would listen all afternoon, think fondly of her cousin and be so happy with her distant connection to the opera world of New York City.
My mother never made it to NYC to see the opera; by the time my parents actually had money to travel again after we were all grown up, she was too ill to travel. I have never made that mistake and would beg and borrow to take trips now rather than wait for some mystic day in the future.
After they moved on from our table the tenors went from table to table and it was beautiful. They even understood their audience. When they came upon a table of young children, they rewarded them with an operatic rendition of Spider Man!
Would I recommend this resort? Absolutely, although it is not cheap. But for a touch of Italy, even make-believe Italy, it is sure worth it.
And talking about Nessun dorma makes me think of THE MAN, Pavarotti. He was my mother's favourite, and she was certainly not alone in her admiration of him. So a wee treat to sing us out..
Have a great Tuesday and stay safe out there!