This past weekend, I went to Portofino. Portofino has long been known as the playground for the ultra rich. You know you're spoiled when you go somewhere like portofino and come out a little disappointed.
Yes, disappointed at one of the highlights of Italy. Let me explain... In the past year, I've been really really fortunate with travel. I went to Tuscany and was blown away by the beauty and charm of Lucca & Sienna. Last September, I saw the best of Cinque Terre right before the floods hit. All of those times I struck gold with really cute inns and agriturismos and amazing food and wine.
So I had big expectations for Portofino. Perhaps unfairly so. And it didn't really deliver. Portofino seems to get by on it's reputation rather than earning it: The food was way overpriced for what it was and our choice of hotels wasn't big and also way overpriced for what they were. And I say this living in switzerland. The land of everything overpriced! That being said, thanks to random diners at the next table over, I had a uniquely portofino experience.
My friend and I were quietly minding our business and griping about our overpriced meals, when the next table over struck up a conversation with us. Giorgio and Gianni (not their real names but I'm too lazy to verify and I'm pretty sure I'm not far off) spoke excellent English. It may have even been my dog that started the conversation. She has a tendency to do that. (well not the actual conversing, but her very presence inspires conversation) The conversation started innocently enough and for the first hour I thought they were gay. After a year and a half living in europe, I still have a hard time deciphering "euro" from "gay". One thing was clear, these guys were rich. And not just a little bit rich. They both talked about their homes in portofino, How they loved to sail to saint tropez and visit their friends with villas in Lugano. To be fair, they could have been making it up, but it didn't seem like it.
At some point, the conversation got flirtatious. And it was a lot creepy since they were older than my parents. I didn't let on how old I was cause I'm sure that would have been a turn off. Since my friend is taken and I was fascinated by this scene, we started prodding them. Giorgio, who is currently developing private airports in china, went on about no matter how successful you were, it was "necessary" to have a young pretty girl on your arm. According to him, this was the mark of success. I tried to dispute this with him, but we were getting nowhere.
Gianni, the jeweler, was a lot more down to earth. In addition to the jewelry shop that had been in his family for a long time, his main business was in trading diamonds. When I prodded if he had any clients I'd know, he claimed he had recently sold jewelry to Paul Allen. It all seemed very James Bond to me and it was humorous to get a glimpse into this world.
I could see how some girls could find Gianni and Giorgio charming. But at the end of the day, they were over 60. Giorgio said how he wouldn't date a girl older than 26. Riddle me this: how can ANY 26 year old girl have anything in common with a 65 year old man? All I think about is the sex and the city episode where Samantha sleeps with the old man. He may be rich, he may be charming, but when his clothes are off? That's still a saggy old man ass you're looking at.
In a world where most of us look for meaning, it was wild to see how shallow life can be. Giorgio and Gianni were clearly successful in business, yet their priority was to land the hottest and youngest pretty thing. They griped about how Portofino needed the "right" tourists. Not the ones that bought gelato and came in on cruise ships but ones that came to buy rolexes and cashmere sweaters. It was clear we were worlds apart.
Towards the end of dinner, Giorgio and Gianni gave me their cards and told us to be in touch. What, pray tell would they want from a 39 year old woman with far more Zara in her closet than Gucci?!?!
When it was time to pay the bill, we were told that our money was no good there and our bill was taken care of. Portofino may have been a disappointment to visit, but I sure felt like like I had the right Portifino experience by having dinner bought for us by two Portofino playboys. In the end I wonder who has the recipe of success. 2 old(er) men whose main goal in life is the younger hotter arm candy? Or 2 late 30's women trying to live their life with meaning and hope for "true" love. Whatever THAT means. In the end, time will tell.