“In the summer, my girlfriend Daniela Missaglia and I like to be near the water, so we’ll be at my house in Portofino or in Monaco. My passion for the sea comes from my parents and spending so much time as a child in Portofino. Back then it was a simple harbour of mariners and fishermen. It’s where I learnt to sail.
I’ll get up early on Saturday and start my day with a light breakfast of orange juice and focaccia, which is not so good for the diet. Then, if the weather is beautiful, we’ll go out on the boat. I have a 47 Wallypower, a sports cruiser, and we’ll go five miles out to where there is just sea and sky. We’ll spend a few hours swimming, and if we’re with friends we’ll play water polo, which is great exercise.
Cap Ferrat is an easy sail from Monaco and a great place for lunch, but with a fast boat, Saint Tropez or, in the opposite direction, Alassio on the Ligurian coast are within two hours. In Saint Tropez we’ll stop at Club 55 on Pampelonne beach or at the less glamorous Les Salins on Les Plages des Salins, where the tables are set in the sand and the water laps at your feet. There are a couple of pretty bays nearby at Cap Taillat and Baie de Briande, where I might go paddleboarding before we eat. I used to water-ski, but there are too many boats around now.
We’ll plan to have a speedy lunch, but usually bump into friends at Club 55 and end up drinking lots of wine and having fun. I’ll need a quick nap to recover from the rosé and then we’ll go to play golf, either at Golf de Monte Carlo, where there are great views, or if we are in Alassio, at Golf Club Garlenda, where members come from Genoa, Turin and Milan, so there’s a great mix of Italian culture. In the summer, when there is more light, we start around 4pm or 5pm and play until the early evening.
Then we’ll shower and go out for dinner with friends. If we are at Garlenda, there are lovely restaurants on the harbour, such as the chic but informal Sail Inn, where you can dine on favourite local dishes until very late at night. There are also plenty of little restaurants in the hills and valleys inland of Alassio, such as Ai Torchi in Finale Ligure, where I like the fish tartare with caper sauce and the gnocchi with sea urchin.
Another favourite is Hostellerie Jérôme in La Turbie, a two-Michelin-star restaurant offering Provençale cooking in the old presbytery of Lérins Abbey. The produce is mainly from western Liguria and it has a great wine list. If we stay in Monaco, we’ll go to the Yacht Club de Monaco for an aperitif or Le Cabanon at Cap d’Ail to watch the sunset. I find the light and colours it casts over the water very inspiring.
Sundays are much the same, though we might start the day with a golf tournament. My handicap is six and Daniela’s is 10. At 1pm, we get back on the water. I keep the boat in Cap d’Ail or Port of Monaco, and we’ll head in a different direction from Saturday. There are beautiful spots between Monaco and Italy, such as Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, where we’ll stop for lunch at Hotel Le Roquebrune. It only opens on demand and you have to call ahead to place your order, usually locally caught wild fish with fennel, and pommes de terre allumette. Or we go to the clifftop Hotel Cap Estel – it’s easily accessible by boat and has a Michelin star – or La Pinède in Cap d’Ail, which is also near the water and has a lovely atmosphere.
Beyond Cap-Martin on the Italian border is a little bay called La Spiagetta dei Balzi Rossi, a famous archaeological site, where we might drop anchor for an hour or two before heading back for a quiet evening at home.”