Monday 26 November 2018


Sometimes all you need is a restorative weekend, a day trip or a quick drive out to make you feel like you’ve had a break from the stresses of work and everyday life. It’s enough to blow away the cobwebs and feel like you’ve made the most of your free time. I love days like this and earlier on in the year, on a glorious sunny day, we headed out to a little piece of Italian paradise right on our own doorstep; no plane journey required.

After getting lost in picturesque countryside, often having to slow down to take pictures and of course natures very own traffic lights (sheep and lots of them) you approach the little tourist town of Portmeirion in the Gwynedd area of North Wales, in an area of sublime natural beauty. The town created by Sir Clough Williams Ellis was designed in the style of the Italian village of Portofino and immediately on entering you are transported to a fairy tale paradise.

Elegant archways, pastel-shaded houses and various bright flora and fauna abound, palm trees sway and as you sit down and sip on a cold crisp Italian Moretti lager (well, when in Rome!) you almost completely forget you are in the Welsh countryside. It’s pretty and elegant facade you may recognise from programmes such as The Prisoner (a bit of a cult classic) and the music festival Number 6, presumably named after the agent above.

To keep the village running there is an entrance fee, more expensive on the day at around £12.50 or £10.00 after 3pm (however, if you book online tickets are much cheaper!) as we arrived after 3pm and the site isn’t particularly large (this is a village after all) we had more than enough time to wander around this sub-tropical utopia at a leisurely pace and indulge enough in a drink and a delicious sharing platter of food at Caffe Glas (I love how the menus are still properly represented in Welsh). We sat and watched the world go by and admired this pretty part of the world. Coming at this particular hour, you feel like you’ve almost got the place to yourself and don’t forget, if you don’t want to explore this little gem on foot, the miniature railway departs from outside this Italian style restaurant. We nibbled at our board of Italian style meats, olives and cheeses, and let our bread soak up delicious oil and balsamic glaze. You can also pre-order food to take away and have it delivered to one of the onsite cottages if you happen to stay on site. This is something I would definitely do, especially whilst enjoying a cold drink and admiring the sunset over the picturesque estuary.

Afterwards, we wandered down to the Portmeirion Hotel and stopped at one of the local shops to pick up some Welsh goodies, including some spicy, dark Pembrokeshire Rum. Delicious to drink but also gorgeous as a glaze for marinades or maybe added to cake mix. The Portmeirion Hotel is a fabulous spot if you decide to stay for a night or two and is very popular for weddings as its views are unparalleled; a perfect spot for a sundowner! It even has an outdoor pool virtually unheard of in Great Britain, never mind Snowdonia! Between now and March next year there are some great deals to be had for mini breaks to Portmeirion (check their website for details but two nights with breakfast and dinner can be had for around £205 for two people). If the dramatic sunsets are anything to be had at the moment those purple and pink dotted skies would look ever so pretty over the Dynward Estuary! They even do spa packages ... perfect to escape and ease away the stresses and tensions of everyday life.

So, if you want to take a trip to Italy but can’t quite afford the price tag, make your way to Portmeirion and live that Italian/Welsh dream. You can even have Gelato!

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