Voyage to a romantic Italian seaside village
When you picture classic Italian romance (think Lady-and-the-Tramp-sharing-a-plate-of-spaghetti-and-meatballs-while-staring-into-each-other’s-eyes romance), the setting could be Portovenere.
Set on the Gulf of Poets (Golfo dei Poeti), Portovenere served as inspiration for the works of English poets Lord Byron and Percy Shelley in the early 1800s, which speaks volumes for just how romantic this idyllic seaside village really is.
Stroll along winding cobblestone streets to San Pietro Church, which sits upon a site that’s believed to have once been a temple to Venus, or Venere in Italian, which is where Portovenere got its name. Look up and you’ll see the imposing Doria Castle, which was built by the Genoans to loom over Portovenere like a dark, menacing storm cloud (although the view from the site is anything but gloomy!).
Meander along the harbor promenade lined with colorful houses and restaurants serving freshly caught seafood, or enjoy a glass of vino at one of the waterfront bars. But make sure you visit Grotta Dell’Arpaia, where Lord Byron used to swim and relax during the 1820s. It’s easy to see how Byron was inspired to write some of his most romantic works here.
Constructed to appear to be looming over Portovenere like a dark and dangerous storm cloud, the castle was once the town’s defense. The view of the town and surrounding seascape are fantastic and remain largely unchanged from when soldiers and locals alike sought shelter within its high stone walls.
CHURCH OF ST. PETER
CHURCH OF ST. PETER
Dedicated in 1198, the church sits on the foundation of what is thought to have been an ancient Roman temple dedicated to Venus. The church was a gift from the Republic of Genoa to the citizens of Portovenere for their vigorous defense of the town.
Though much of this ancient grotto is in ruins, with jagged cliffs and the turquoise Ligurian Sea, Lord Byron’s Grotto remains a beautiful site. At the end of Portoverne’s peninsula, this site was named for the famed English poet who loved to swim and relax here in the 1820’s.
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Portovenere, Italy At a glance