Italian Mediterranean
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Brightly colored yellow, red, and orange row houses stood along the gently curved edge of Portofino's harbor. It used to be a sleepy little fishing village. Now it's a tourist mecca, popularized by celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor and Mel Gibson. High vantage points on one side of the harbor overlook the picturesque, seaside town. We climbed and climbed steep stairs to the top of a hill. A yellow-colored church was perched upon the slope. Next to it, Castle Brown, a museum is opened to the public. It's worth paying the entrance fee to see the magnificent views from the castle. Old photographs of famous celebrities hung on the walls, including Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, and Susan Hayward and former heads of state, such as Edward, Duke of Windsor, and Margaret Thatcher.

We took a public bus to the neighboring towns of Santa Margherita and Rapallo. There didn't seem to be much to see or do in these towns. The bus rides to and from, along the rocky coastline were breathtakingly beautiful.

Porto Venere is not very far from Portofino to the Southeast in the province of Tuscany. From there, you can visit Florence, noted for its famous art museums and architecture. The other option is to visit the five picturesque villages, known as the Cinque Terre (pronounced chin-que tear-ray), carved into rocky coastline. We chose Cinque Terre.

I had to get some cash to pay for the boat fare and asked an Italian man where the ATM machine was. I only knew a few Italian words--Do've means, "where" and banco means, "bank." A couple of cruise passengers who needed cash and were even more clueless than me. So, they hung with me. I asked the Italian man, "Do've banco machine?" Apparently, he understood and gave us directions to the nearest Bancomat ATM. A few days later I asked the same question to a young woman when I needed cash on the island of Elba. She replied, "Huh?" Only after I showed her some coins, she finally understood me and pointed down the street.

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