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Weekend Travel: Editor’s Recommendation—A Hidden Town on the Italian Riviera

I’ve always felt that if you don’t leave room for chance, spontaneity and even “mistakes” in your travels, you’ll miss out on some of the best memories.

Case in point: I thought I knew Liguria—the Italian Riviera—well. Portofino, Cinque Terre, Portovenere—all the achingly beautiful spots. And I keep returning. One time, a couldn’t find a single Airbnb apartment in Cinque Terre, and had to keep looking west. Eventually, I took a chance on Sori, a town I’d never heard of, and ended up in a room high on the hill above the train station, where an Italian youth named Filippo managed the guests for the mansion he shared with his mom. He helped me schlep my bags up, and I was rewarded with an adorable suite with double doors that overlooked a thriving lemon tree.

I fell in love with Sori, with its dark sand beach, its octopus salad, and its focaccia. So, about 18 months ago, on my first trip out of the country during the pandemic, I hopped the train from the Cinque Terre town of Riomaggiore, where I was staying this time, to return to Sori for the day.

But my phone lost its signal, there were no signs to be seen from the train windows, and no announcement, of course, so I missed the stop. I got off as soon as I could, outside Genova, at the Genova Nervi station. Never heard of it.

But, looking inland, I saw towering palms and stately villas, so I figured that there must be something to this place. I couldn’t see the water without entering some kind of circular tunnel, which spit me out onto a seaside promenade with gorgeous water views. Thrilled by what my missed stop had led me to, I walked along above the Ligurian Sea. Something told me to keep going, and after about 10 minutes, I happened on a place not just unusual, but for me, a swimmer, astounding.

It was a small café and beach club—except the “beach” was a seawater pool that had been carved dramatically from the rocky coast. A strapping tattooed lifeguard kept watch over the glistening jade-colored water. Once in a while, the roiling sea would throw a frothy wave into the pool. The Italians like their civilizing effect on nature, so there were umbrellas and lounge chairs for hire, and in the restaurant above, fresh-squeezed orange juice and cornettos, the Italian version of a croissant (which is also called brioche in Northern Italy). Once I got in the pool, I never wanted to leave.

Want to stay in Liguria in high style, explore the hidden towns, and get happily lost the way I did? Then you’ll want to book a suite at Hotel Splendido, a Belmond hotel that has hosted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The iconic hotel, a former Benedictine monastery that goes back centuries, peeks out from the lush and flowering hillside above the main piazza and marina in Portofino. And yes, it has its own famous pool, tucked in between the Canary Island palms.

Want to know the name of lido club where the rock pool is located? I’ll need 10 people to ask me in the Comments section.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.