Sta. Margherita/Portofino — the Italian Riviera — very cool. Cobblestone streets, centuries old villas, — wonder if it was like a “villa competition” in the 17th & 18th C. – who could design the most ornate villa w/the sumptuous gardens? — a centuries’ old version of: Jackson Hole, Wyoming & dueling architects I.M. Pei /Frank Gehry /A. Predock — but in 1687, it would have been Sr. ??? No idea! These “small little summer getaways” for the family and 20 staff members are gorgeous. Currently, they are in all stages of renovation. Little trattorias tucked in here and there .. the main road along the coast introduces one to the ever-present Hermés Store signifying that the town is “hip”, Yachting Days = here-come-the-$200-blue-and-white-striped-cotton-t-shirts, and Il Bambino shops selling mommy-daddy-look-a-likes for 200 euros. Walk 1 block off the main street and there is the local town with the hardware store, outlet shop, shoe repair shop.. the locals are welcoming and there is an air of “whatever” here – where your Levi’s into the white linen tablecloth restaurant, it’s ok – wonder what it is like during the summer? Probably a zoo.. the train station is close to town, easy access..buses run from Sta. Margherita to other coastal towns… the touristica boats operate from April thru October taking tourists to the coastal towns … seasonal living on the Mediterranean. Not crowded here now, and what a treat for me! Walked from Sta. Margherita to Portofino(5 KM) along the Mediterranean Coast and thru the hills on a designated pedestrian path…had a cappuccino, thinly sliced dried beef with chunks of parmesan cheese and watercress, and bread in Portofino before I headed back. The waiter rolled his eyes and nodded when I said “April – lots of tourists?” But now, life doesn’t get much better than this — I feel so lucky to spend 2 or 3 days in these places – and see not only the tourist sites, but watch local life.