A memorable experience !
Bay of Poets


The charming town of Portovenere, Italy, is often overshadowed by the nearby Cinque Terre and its five picturesque villages. WRONG! That is to say, there are many things to do in Portovenere, and you’ll fall in love with this hidden gem in Italy.

Pink, yellow, light blue, red, orange. Portovenere, one of the most beautiful towns of the eastern Ligurian coast (Tuscany border), appeared from the sea with its colorful houses reflecting in the water.

Even if touristy, there’s an air of local life in Portovenere

Everything is pretty and charming in Portovenere, without being too artificially embellished to please the tourists. Luckily, Portovenere has been well preserved, the original architecture lovingly restored, keeping as much as possible of the original building materials.

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Cinque Terre also, Portovenere can frequently become packed with locals, especially during the summer weekends. But if you visit the off-season, you’ll soon find out how delightful the town is. Portovenere is well worth visiting, certainly, it’s a perfect combination with a trip to the Cinque Terre, Lerici, Tellaro (Gulf of Poets).

Above all, the entire east coast of Liguria (called Levante) is beautiful. There are many other charming towns on the Ligurian coast that are worth visiting. One of them is Portofino, the picturesque village where celebrities love to pop in during summer with their large yachts. Furthermore, Portofino Regional Park is a fantastic spot for hikes with superb views.

Portovenere Bay of Poets

The Gulf of La Spezia, at the extremity of Liguria bordering Tuscany, is also known and the Bay of Poets. The reason is that this breathtaking stretch of coastline bewitched many writers and poets, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries. For instance, English writers, Mary Shelley and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as Lord Byron, spent many years in the Bay of Poets. The idyllic setting of the Gulf of La Spezia also attracted David Herbert Lawrence, Henry Miller, Virginia Woolf, and George Sand, among others.

Things to do Portovenere

There are many attractions in Portovenere, enough to fill a full day. The town is relatively small, and everything is within walking reach.

Visit the colorful harbor

Firstly, while you approach the town and its colorful skyline, you can start exploring the lovely harbor, with its narrow houses that make a beautiful pastel-colored backdrop.

Porta del Borgo and the historical center

To enter Portovenere’s historic center, walk across Porta del Borgo (Gate), the ancient entrance that remained intact since the 12th century. Therefore, from the arch’s opening, you’ll see Via Giovanni Capellini, the central axis of the town. Like the villages of the Cinque Terre, the streets of Portovenere wind up the steep rocky hill to the Doria Castle and the Church of San Lorenzo, offering scenic views over the Gulf of Poets. The main street is lined in pastel-colored houses leaning against each other, with souvenir and artisan shops, bakeries, bars, restaurants. All of them are super cozy, even if often touristy.

St. Peter’s Church and the scenic loggia

That’s one spot in Portovenere not to miss, no matter if you like religious buildings or not. St. Peter’s church is perched on a spur of rocks overlooking the sea and is a beautiful spot.

Likewise, both the exterior and interior of the church are decorated in black and white horizontal stripes, typical of the Genoese architecture of the 13th century. The adjacent Romanesque loggia, with its four arches framing the blue sea, is one of the most romantic sites you can imagine. After that, take a few moments to enjoy the magnificent view. Through the arcades of St Peter’s loggia, the sight of the rugged coastline, with the waves crashing on the rocks, is just beautiful. A walk to St. Peter’s Church is undoubtedly one of the best things you can do in Portovenere.

Byron’s cave

From St. Peter’s church, a path leads to Grotta Arpaia, also known as Byron’s cave.  Lord Byron, one of the greatest British poets and a key figure of the Romantic period, used to find inspiration in such a wonderful place.

Therefore you don’t have to be a poet, though, to experience the beauty of the crystal-clear water, with its turquoise and blue shades, and the cliff diving into the water. If you get the chance, take a boat trip to admire Byron’s cave from a different perspective.

The Doria castles

It will take you some effort to walk uphill on the steep road to reach the Doria castle, built around the XII-XIV centuries. Actually, since Portovenere castle was primarily a fortress, being perched above the town is no surprise. From its privileged location, overlooking the coast, it served defensive purposes perfectly.

The visit to the Castle itself might not be the most interesting, However, it’s certainly worth having the hike since you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent view.

Church of S. Lorenzo

Meanwhile, you stroll in Portovenere’s old town, just before climbing towards the Castle, you’ll pass the church of San Lorenzo. The building originally dates back to 1130 but has undergone several restorations and refurbishments throughout its history. However, it’s worth taking a break by the church, from where there’s a lovely view over the Gulf of Poets.

Certainly, you are not just another tourist for us, and this is what makes us different. We will turn your day into a memorable experience in paradise. Tour Portovenere.

Palmaria island

Moreover, the overview of the things to do in Portovenere wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Palmaria island. When you get to Portovenere, it’s the large island that you see as soon as you approach the town. It extends along the entire length of the harbor skyline and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the Cinque Terre, Portovenere, and the three islands.

Palmaria island is covered with thick green vegetation, and its coasts are quite varied. The side facing Portovenere descends gently towards the sea. There, you can see a few private homes and small beaches.  On the other hand, the coast towards the Ligurian Sea is wilder and characterized by high cliffs and numerous caves.

Certainly, hiking lovers can choose between several trails, including a loop circuit, which takes about four hours.

In conclusion, there are well enough things to do in Portovenere to spend one day. Portovenere is undoubtedly worth a visit, and you’ll fall in love with this delightful town

Best time to visit Portovenere:

That is to say, you can go and visit Portovenere at any time of the year, but keep in mind that from late June to early September, it will be bustling and likely hot. Spring and autumn are the best periods, with pleasant temperatures, and it will be less crowded. Winter has a unique charm, but beware that some hotels and restaurants are seasonal and might be closed.

Where to stay:

Villas Retreats is an exclusive holidays & events Agency based in Sarzana (La Spezia province), a little medieval village, between Liguria and Tuscany. They offer Villas and Apartments, concierge services, with the simple goal of giving you memorable vacations.

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