PORTOVENERE

The small town of Portovenere, with its tall, narrow houses in typically Genoese style, parallel to the sea, on the westernmost end of the Gulf of La Spezia. The ancient origins of Portovenere, considered one of the most enchanting spots in all Liguria, and UNESCO Word Heritage Site, date back to 1113, although it was also a Roman settlement, as shown by ancient relics and historical sources. Its name comes from a temple dedicated to the goddess,Venus Erycina which once stood on the site of the church of San Pietro. This is a masterpiece that brings together different styles and periods, with a marvellous Romanesque loggia, overlooking the sea. Also worthy of note is the church of San Lorenzo with its three naves, consecrated in 1130, but renovated various times. Inside the church are fined works, including a splendid painting of the Madonna Bianca. For the feast day of the Madonna Bianca, held every August, many, many lanterns are lit, crossing the old town up to the castle, among the reflections of the sea and sky, creating an extraordinarily charming and magical sight. The island of Palmaria, opposite, can be reached by ferry from Portovenere. It is Liguria's largest island and its beaches and trails are surrounded by flowering gorse and red cistus that greet the enthusiastic tourists. Breathtakingly beautiful panoramic views open out onto the islands of Tino and Tinetto, which once used to be linked together. There are ruins from an ancient monastery on the island of Tinetto. It is an exceptions place for underwater fishing, and for underwater caves. Portovenere and its islands can be easily reached by land, from La Spezia or by sea, including from the harbour in Lerici.