A Day Trip To The Harbour Town of Porto Venere
The harbour of Porto Venere and it's Ligurian style pastel coloured buildings
Portovenere or Porto Venere is a harbour town located south of La Spazia on the Ligurian Coast and can be considered the hidden gem of Liguria. It is often overlooked by visitors as though it is very close to La Spezia, the train that goes from Levanto from La Spazia via the villages of Cinque Terre doesn’t pass though the town of Porto Venere!
However this wonder is definitely worth a visit for full day or at least half a day with a 30-40 min bus ride from the town of La Spazia. Other options are to drive from La Spezia or taking a boat.
Old town of Porto Venere is an UNESCO World Heritage Site
With its gorgeous Ligurian style pastel coloured tall buildings and narrow cobbled streets, it has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The houses here also form part of a historical structure called the ‘Palazzata’ which essentially replaced traditional fortification – these tightly packed and connected houses built into the rocky shoreline became the town’s fortified walls and along with the ancient gate ‘Porta del Borgo’ which used to be locked in the evening were designed to protect town residents from invaders.
Byron's Grotto with Doria Castle in the backdrop
Narrow cobbled streets of the colourful medieval town
The town is dotted with many restaurants serving fresh local delicacies and seafoods
Things to do in Porto Venere
Walk through the narrow streets of the beautiful medieval town
Walk down the main street of Via Giovanni Capellini which is dotted with gelato shops, restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops
Enjoy a bit of history – Explore monuments dating back to the Middle Ages like the Doria Castle which was of high significance when the powerful republic of Genoa ruled the town. The churches, Chiesa di San Pietro and Chiesa di San Lorenzo can offer the history buffs some more excitement in addition to offering extraordinary views. The ruins of Villa Romana of Varignano, which lies close to Portovenere in the village of Le Grazie dates back to the 2nd century B.C!
Take a swim in Byron’s Grotto – Named after George Gordon Byron (Lord Byron) one of the greatest English poets that led the Romantic movement- had a special love for Porto Venere and this was his favourite swimming spot. The Byron cave is characterized by a white cliff that dives into the sea. The cave can be accessed through a narrow opening in the square in front of Saint Peter church. It is popular for sunbathing and enjoying the spectacular sunsets.
Treat your taste buds – Porto Venere is the destination for mussels (muscoli), stuffed or marinated. You also can enjoy Octopus, or polpo, or get a bite of the Ligurian pandolce (fruit cake) or ice cream.