When the Publisher’s Tour group visited the Ligurian coast, it stayed at the Grand Hotel Miramare in Santa Margherita Ligure. Located in the heart of the Italian Riviera, the hotel overlooks the sapphire waters of the Tigullio Gulf. The hotel was built in 1903 and was one of the first grand hotels on the Riviera, ultimately becoming the place to stay for the international celebrities of the time. For over seventy years, it has been owned by the Fustinoni family.
As the group approached the Miramare, the grand hotel shone like a pearl set between the azure sea and the Verdi (green) of the park. All eyes were drawn to the gleaming white façade, painted with trompe l’oeil frescoes reminiscent of the early 1900s.
It was a step back in time to the glamourous days of the jet setters. Beautifully appointed and tastefully decorated, one would almost expect the stars of the day to come walking through the Barracuda Piano Bar at any moment, just as they did 70 years ago. Say what you’d like about older hotels, there is an element of charm, class and polish in the Grand Hotel Miramare that is rare and distinctive in today’s world.
The elegantly furnished terraces, flowering Mediterranean gardens and sparkling saltwater pool created a decidedly old-world feel. The hotel’s restored stucco and wooden flooring recreate the splendor of the original interiors – an art nouveau atmosphere that has been enhanced by the comforts and convenience necessary for today’s traveler.
Our location was within walking distance to the boutiques of Santa Margherita Ligure and just three miles from Portofino. The Grand Hotel was the group’s deluxe base to tour the surrounding area and this four-star hotel became one of the stars of an already remarkable tour.
Our stay was enhanced by the impeccable service provided by the staff. In particular, our visit was made all the more delightful by Annalisa Viglietta, Director of Sales and Marketing at the hotel. She handled all of our details, including helping to arrange the Publisher’ Dinner, where Marion and Buddy Fortunato hosted a dinner for their friends at the hotel’s superb Restaurant Vistamare.
Chef Claudio Fortuna and his team of culinary artists prepared a magnificent dinner, selected by Marion Fortunato. Seated in the same room graced by many luminaries, celebrities and the elite of society from a bygone era, the cuisine of the Vistamare restaurant married Ligurian traditions with the most sophisticated of contemporary dishes. With subdued light glinting on exquisite china, the Publisher’s Tour group began with risotto, creamed with pumpkin, gorgonzola cheese and roasted hazelnuts. Decadently rich, it was accompanied by an aged red wine whose acidity had just the right texture to enhance the fullness of the risotto flavors.
The understated elegance of the restaurant carried over to the group’s main course – veal tournedos with pink peppers and sautéed vegetables. Perfectly prepared, beautifully presented, the kitchen staff’s attention to detail was evident on each traveler’s plate, to the degree that the Miramare logo was appropriately positioned with each entrée set at its most attractive angle. When the culinary discipline is so precise when plating the meal, you realize that you are in exceptional company. The veal was tender and wonderfully, yet discreetly seasoned and of course, absolutely delicious. Their dessert brought a thrilling conclusion to this memorable dinner. Described as pure chocolate soup with hazelnut pie, desserts are something of a specialty in the Vistamare. Their first impression was that the finale to dinner looked too good to partake. That moment passed quickly and every delicious mouthful was savored.