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Porto Venere

The village that conquers poets with the wonder of its landscapes

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Literature
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Villages

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Where is

Liguria

Portovenere SP, Italia (26m s.l.m.)

Directions
map

What it is and where it is

Atthe western end of the Gulf of Poets, Porto Venere, with its marvelous Mediterranean landscapes, architectural gems, and clear sea, exemplifies the perfect blend of nature and architecture. Since 1997, along with the islands of Palmaria, Tino, Tinetto and the Cinque Terre, Porto Venere has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2001, the Region of Liguria established the Porto Venere Regional Natural Park, which includes the ancient village, the islands of the archipelago, and the Marine Protected Area.

Why it is special

In Porto Venere, as Montale writes in a line of the poem of the same name, "every doubt / is led by the hand / like a friendly maiden." Here, in fact, you can enjoy one of the best seas of Liguria or, moving away from the coast, you can lose yourself in the narrow streets of the historic center. Walk along the ancient carrugio that leads from the ancient entrance gate to the village (12th century) to the church of San Pietro, passing by small craft stores and tasty taverns, then reach the Romanesque Sanctuary of the Madonna Bianca (formerly the church of San Lorenzo) or, further up, the Doria Castle, one of the most majestic defensive buildings of the Republic of Genoa, an ideal point to enjoy the wonderful view. From the harbor, several boats offer the possibility of reaching Palmaria Island, circumnavigating the three islands and visiting the Blue Grotto, or reaching Cinque Terre and Levanto. And for trekking lovers, "the endless path" starts from Bastreri Square and leads to the Cinque Terre (3 to 4 hours to Rio Maggiore).

Not to be missed

Definitely not to be missed are the sunsets from the Church of San Pietro. Rising on the foundations of an ancient temple dedicated to Venus, the Church of St. Peter stands on a cliff spur overlooking the sea. It was built in 1198 in early Christian style and was later redefined in Gothic style. From the balcony above the church or from the small windows of the loggia, you can watch the sun reflect and get lost in the sea.

A bit of history

Porto Venere is a land of poets. Eugenio Montale composed a poem entitled "Porto Venere": you can read it in the square named after him in the historic center. And walking through the narrow streets of the village you can immerse yourself in the world of Ossi di Seppia: observe the "barren and arid" vegetation, "the sharp bottle shards" above "the shabby walls," and, orienting yourself by smell, look for the yellow of the lemons. The Gulf of La Spezia is named the Gulf of Poets in memory of the great Romantic poets who stayed there in the early 19th century. Grotta Byron, a wonderful natural cavity between St. Peter's Church and Castello Doria, is named after the English poet George G. Byron, who, according to legend, braved the waters by swimming eight kilometers to reach the poet and friend Percy B. Shelley, who was staying in Lerici.

Curiosities

Absolutely not to be missed is the cemetery. In addition to a salute to the explorer Walter Bonatti and the poet Giovanni Guidici who are buried here, the cemetery is definitely worth a visit for its privileged position overlooking the sea. From here you can appreciate one of the best views with a full view of the Gulf of Byron, the church of San Pietro and Palmaria Island.

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Lorenzo Manenti