As the boat approaches Porto Venere, we spot the tall colourful and narrow buildings packed tightly side by side by the coastline. Higher above sits the citadel Castello Doria. Shimmering white sailing boats swing on the waves in the harbour. A madam in a brimmed hat sips white wine on the terrace of the Grand Hotel. Welcome to Porto Venere, located in Liguria on the Italian Riviera, in the northwest of Italy.
We decided to do a daytrip to this picturesque fishing village from the town of La Spezia. The reason: we had some good time in our hands and had read that it would be a beautiful destination. We had reserved three days of our road trip for exploring the villages of the Cinque Terre but I must be frank, in two good days we felt like this was beautiful and nice to visit but what’s next. And so we hopped on a boat and headed towards the south. In around 40 minutes we arrived in this small town with less than 4000 permanent residents. The cost of the boat ride was 16 euros for two people one way.
Porto Venere got its name from the goddess of Venus who was born from the foam of the sea. This mythical connection comes to mind when the tall foamy wave crests hit against the rocks of the shore. If the Cinque Terre could have a village number six, the title should definitely go this gem by the Gulf of Poets. All six villages are regarded by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
Porto Venere is charming and pastel-coloured with narrow medieval streets, houses covered in gorgeous lilac flowers and numerous small shops selling a selection of fresh and delicious pestos.
What are the best to-do’s? Climb up the cobblestone streets to the Castello Doria (entrance 3 euros/person) and marvel at the splendid views of the Chiesa di San Pietro and the harbour. There is a hiking trail from Porto Venere to Cinque Terre that starts right behind the castle. It is about a five hour walk so come prepared, if you opt for it. Instead of the considerable hike you can change into your bikini and take a swim in the sea where the poet Byron once swam too. And then, enjoy a tasty lunch for example at the seaside restaurant Ristorante La Marina. They serve the Caprese di Bufala originally on a stick and the chef is the former cook of Juventus.