I Found my Love in Portofino
Reaching from the Riviera di Levante (the coast of the rising sun) to the Riviera di Ponente (the coast of the setting sun), the stretch of Mediterranean coastline that comprises the Italian Riviera is famous for its temperate climate and relaxed way of life. With the charm of its old fishing ports and the beauty of its landscape, the Ligurian Riviera – as the locals know it – has been a popular destination for travellers since the time of Byron and Shelley.
Like jewels draped around the neck of an Italian noblewoman, many internationally known towns are dotted along this balmy coastline, including Bordighera, Lerici, Cinque Terre, and the enclave of Portofino.
The earliest references to the erstwhile fishing village of Portofino are from the writings of Pliny the Elder – celebrated author and naval commander of the Roman Empire under Emperor Vespasian – who described it as Portus Delphini (port of the dolphin). Although perfectly suited to commercial maritime pursuits, it wasn’t until the late 19th century when first British, then other Northern European aristocratic tourists began to visit Portofino, which they reached by horse and cart from Santa Margherita Ligure. And by 1950, Portofino’s idyllic location, fair demeanour, and sunny disposition brought so many wealthy vacationers to its shores, that tourism soon supplanted fishing as the town’s chief industry.
Modest fishing vessels made way for luxurious super yachts, merchants reinvented themselves as restaurateurs, and once simple dwellings along the Portofino harbour became brightly coloured and expensive vacation homes, drawing wealthy sun seekers and lovers to Portofino’s continuous ring of restaurants and cafés.
Portofino has not escaped the spotlight of popular culture. Immortalised in the song I Found My Love in Portofino – originally recorded and performed by Fred Buscaglione in 1953, and more recently by the great Andrea Bocelli – the town is indeed “a place made just for lovers, with skies and sea and friendly bars”.
In 2008, to celebrate the Ferrari Daytona’s 40th anniversary, the BBC’S hit television motoring show, Top Gear, featured a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona racing against a carbon fibre powerboat from Portofino to St Tropez in France. The race pitted Richard Hammond in the classic Ferrari against the world’s fastest diesel production boat copiloted by James May.
The beautiful vintage Ferrari wouldn’t have any problem drawing interest even if it hadn’t been on television. The Daytona’s classic lines combined with a 4.4-litre Ferrari V12 make it, in Hammond’s words, “The absolute essence of pure European supercar.”
In its day, the front-engined Daytona was considered somewhat of a dinosaur when compared to the futuristic midengine design of the Lamborghini Miura. If nothing else, however, it was exceedingly successful at bringing a sense of glamour to driving around the Riviera, which by now had become somewhat of a spiritual home to the celebrated and well-heeled.
Nine years on, the Italian sportscar maker has indelibly linked its history with that of the Riviera by introducing the Ferrari Portofino to the world, in the coastal town from which it takes its name. Paying homage to the fact that this charming coastal settlement is internationally synonymous with elegance,
sportiness, and understated luxury, Ferrari launched the new car in a colour dedicated to the town: Rosso Portofino.
Replacing Ferrari’s iconic California convertible, the new car not only celebrates the beauty of Portofino, it is also technically masterful. It combines the advantages of generous power, a lightning-fast sprint time from zero to 100 km/h in just 3.5 seconds, a roomy boot, and ample cockpit space for four into a practical retractable hardtop format.
The Ferrari Design Centre-penned Portofino is as aggressively styled as some of the yachts that lie anchored in the Portofino harbour, but is unique to other hardtop GTS (and superyachts, for that matter) with its two-box fastback configuration. This adds extra sleekness to its silhouette, lending it a sportier character without detracting from its elegance and dynamism.
In keeping with Ferrari’s philosophy of consistent innovation, the Portofino bristles with new technology, both under the skin and inside the cabin.
Primary among these, and central to the performance success of any new-generation sports car, is the ratio of power versus overall weight. Sports cars in general – and the new Portofino in particular – are faster and more nimble. In the Portofino’s case it is because the all-new Ferrari chassis features a significant weight saving over the California T it replaces. Thanks to the extensive use of modern production technologies, all chassis and body components have been redesigned to be lighter, while keeping the Portofino’s torsional rigidity – another key element that adds to the driving fun of any sports car.
Ferrari has kept its renowned frontmounted, twin-turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 engine – part of the engine family that was nominated International Engine of the Year in both 2016 and 2017 – although it has been tuned to produce more power than the California T’s power unit. Ferrari aficionados will also appreciate that the characteristic Ferrari V8 soundtrack has been further enhanced for greater aural pleasure, especially while driving the Portofino with the top down. Although it is unlikely that one will break any speed records while cruising in downtown Portofino, the Autostrada beckons just beyond the city limits.
Being a true blue Ferrari, the Portofino has been styled and refined to be both achingly beautiful and deceptively aerodynamic. Close collaboration between the aerodynamics department and Ferrari Design has ensured maximum efficiency in the development of the Portofino’s surface treatment. Starting with the front, the form of the large radiator grille opening that stretches from edge to edge of the carefully contoured nose is underscored by a new full-led headlight assembly with a more horizontal shape. The outside edge of the headlight hides an innovative air intake, which vents into the front wheel arch and exits along the flank to reduce drag.
The tail design underlines the car’s sporty stance, which has been further enhanced by placing the taillights further apart. This elegant solution cleverly conceals the rear volume that houses the lightweight retractable hardtop.
Naturally, Ferrari drivers expect that the high levels of sportiness and elegance in the performance of their prancing horse and in its exterior design will translate into comfort and cutting edge accessories inside the cabin. The Portofino doesn’t disappoint, bringing a slew of new features, not least of which is an infotainment system with a 10.2” touchscreen display, and a new airconditioning system that improves occupant comfort both with the top up and down.
A new steering wheel, 18-way electrically adjustable seats with a new backrest design that gives rear passengers more legroom, and a passenger display adds to the new technology available on-board. All occupants will particularly appreciate the new wind deflector that, when the top is down, cuts air flow inside the cabin by 30% while reducing aerodynamic noise, improving the overall driving experience.
Like the town from which it gets its name, the Portofino is as quintessentially Italian as any prancing horse before it. Ferrari may no longer be California dreaming, but the Portofino will have you falling in love with it all over again with every drive.