Portovenere - Photo Gallery 01 Gallery 02 Gallery 03
Adding new photographs of Liguria,
the Italian Rivieras and Italy every month.
Portovenere, Province of GENOVA
Portovenere was an unconquerable bastion of the Republic of Genoa during the long war against Pisa: the characteristic church of San Pietro on the clifftop was built by the Genoese in 1256, as a token of gratitude for the decisive contribution of the local inhabitants in the conquest of Lerici. The "upper castle" was built by the Byzantines and resisted two Pisan sieges in 1165 and 1198; it was demolished in the fifteenth century to make room for the fortress, which was constructed in a number of phases until 1751. It is today open to visitors and used as an exhibition space for shows and cultural events.
A road leading out of Portovenere takes you up the steep hillside towards the Cinque Terre through the Mediterranean maquis. You can also reach the Muzzerone free-climbing area from here. A boat service takes visitors to the island of Palmaria, which is a regional park: protected from building speculation, it offers tourists beaches, cliffs, natural vegetation and grottoes that can only be reached by boat. The "grotta dei colombi" was a prehistoric dwelling.
The island of Tino lies beyond Palmaria: it is a military zone and is only open to visitors once a year on the occasion of the feast of San Venerio, the hermit who lived on the island in the tenth century.
Le Grazie is a coastal town set in a charming inlet in the Gulf of La Spezia; it developed around the old Roman Villa del Varignano, whose sizeable ruins can today be visited.
The unique landscape, the leisure port, the beach facilities and the opportunities to go diving off the coastal rocks in front of the town and on the islands all make Portovenere one of the most famous international tourist resorts. The restaurants are famous for their refined fish and seafood dishes (particularly the mussels that are cultivated in the local seafood farms), which are accompanied by the superior wine of the Cinque Terre.
Note: The above is an extract taken from the official web-site of the Regione Ligure, Agriculture and tourism department - Tourist section.
Travel Hint: Travelling along the Italian Riviera to visit Liguria's coastal towns and cities is recommended by train - they are frequent, comfortable and generally on time. They also take you into the resort centres and give you an additional perspective and 'flavour' of Italian life. The car by contrast is not quite as practical and ideal as first appears. There are basically two roads along the Riviera, the 'autostrada' and the 'Aurelia'. Italian 'autostrada' can be fairly stressed environments and the coastal road (via Aurelia) is pretty in parts but very slow, passing through every little seaside town. Additionally, parking in most Ligurian coastal towns is not in abundance and can take much longer to find a space than ever imagined - during most of the year, not just in summer. With car-hire, petrol, motorway tolls and parking charges, the car soon becomes an expensive and less than ideal way of getting around - and more often than not, slower overall than the journey by train.
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