We arrived in Portofino for the first time just before nightfall, after riding the train from Milan to Santa Margherita Ligure and then taking a taxi from the station the last few kilometers along the coast road. We had no reservations in Portofino... we typically travel in Europe with no reservations, preferring to simply follow the beauty. So when the taxi driver dropped us off in the upper square (not the one everyone’s seen in all the photos) the first order of business was to find a hotel for the evening. We happened to be just a few steps from the Hotel San Giorgio, so we tried there first. It turns out we were able to negotiate a great rate, as usual... when you show up early in the evening, any rooms that are left are unlikely to be rented to anyone else.
So after settling in, we headed down to the harbor for dinner. Wanda and I were traveling with Wanda’s sister Janna; just after we left for Italy, Wanda and Janna’s grandmother, who was 97 years old and in failing health, had taken a turn for the worse, and wasn’t expected to live until we returned. We were nearly finished with dinner when the call came. I was the only one with a phone that worked in Europe on that trip. When I looked down and saw it was their dad calling, my blood ran cold. He asked to speak to Wanda. But he wasn’t calling to tell them Lela was gone... rather, she had rallied and wanted to speak with them both from her hospital bed! The old lady, who had been a member of America’s legion of Rosie the Riveters in World War II, had pulled back from the brink one more time!
These photos were taken after dinner that evening, as we explored the edges of the harbor. The evening was one of those rare instances where great beauty experienced for the first time coincides with a memorable personal event. I don’t know if the images justly depict how firmly that evening is imprinted in my mind; you be the judge. All images were shot hand-held with available light at insanely long exposures, so large prints will not have the sharp focus of a sunlit image, but in my opinion, that contributes to the romance of the night images. Click the photo above to go to the full Zenfolio gallery.