Tatler Travels: Cruising Through Italy With Harriet Tung
One of our favourite summer pastimes is to go cruising with friends in the Mediterranean when the weather is comfortable and clear and the seas are calm.
The best way is on a private yacht like Trident, which is owned by Christopher Cheng. In mid-June 2018, we had the opportunity to be the guests of Chris and his wife Ivy along with fellow passengers Clement and Serena Kwok, and Tammy and Henry Fan.
We boarded Trident in Santa Margherita, Italy, and cruised to Portofino, where we went shopping, had a seafood lunch on the pier at Ristorante O Magazin and a delicious dinner on board.
The next day we arrived in Porto Venere and had a lovely lunch in Locanda Lorena on Isola Palmaria. Chef Giuseppe Basso prepared a wonderful meal for us, including a whole grilled fish, prawn salad, fried calamari and mussel risotto.
After that we drove to the Cinque Terre and the village of Manarola. It was a Sunday so there were hordes of tourists. We had to be patient to get the perfect shot of young boys diving into the ocean from a cliff.
A train ride from Manarola back to La Spezia was faster than driving back to Porto Venere. We took the speedboat tender from La Spezia back to Trident.
The next day Trident took us to Viareggio to visit the Pietrasanta artists’ village and the Fonderia Artistica Mariani, where large bronzes, including sculptures by Fernando Botero, are fired by hand. Then it was on to the Forte dei Marmi shopping centre, which is famous for offering high-end brands at reasonable prices.
On Tuesday afternoon we arrived at Portoferraio on the island of Elba. We had lunch at Hotel Hermitage and dinner at Osteria dei Quattro Gatti in nearby Porto Azzurro. Elba is famous as the island to which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1814 after his abdication following his defeat at the Battle of Leipzig.
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We had a guided tour of a museum devoted to Napoleon, his villa and his official residence, the island’s old castle and the opera house. It seemed a very relaxed and comfortable life, but Napoleon wanted more.
He escaped from Elba in 1815 and returned to France to raise an army and re-establish his empire. Louis XVIII fled Paris and Napoleon ruled once more. But on June 16, 1815, he was defeated at the Battle of Waterloo and banished to the barren island of Saint Helena off west Africa, where he died in 1821.
The story of Napoleon is very poignant for me. It’s a story about a man who was unable to control his ruthless drive and all-consuming ambition. Instead of settling for what could have been a comfortable retirement, he opted for a war against the British in which he was ignominiously defeated. He died a lonely and broken man. This is a valuable cautionary tale—especially as one grows older.
After Elba we went to Porto Santo Stefano for more shopping and dinner at Il Pellicano Restaurant. The next day we disembarked at Cala Galera and drove to Rome airport for a flight to Paris.
We enjoyed great camaraderie on our trip, especially under the leadership of Chris, who planned all the details, including the itinerary, restaurants and famous sights, for us to enjoy on this wonderful cruise.
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Getting there: Cathay Pacific flies directly to Milan. Then it’s about a two-hour drive to Santa Margherita
Days out of office: 10
Top tip: Hire local guides for attractions such as the Napoleon museum. Their stories bring these historic sites to life.
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