Portovenere – Near but not in Cinque Terre

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This is NOT about Cinque Terre, the famous and beautiful set of towns along the Italian Riviera. This series is about other less well known towns nearby. The “off-the-beaten-track” parts of Liguria region if you will. Presenting Portovenere, south of La Spezia and down the coast from the favorite 5. Part of the “near but not in Cinque Terre” series.

Last Spring I took my parents to Italy. We picked Liguria both for Cinque Terre and all the other towns to see in the area. We stayed in La Spezia. One afternoon we took the public bus out from La Spezia to the town of Port Venere which is on the point of land directly south of La Spezia across from Isola Palmaria. There is no train so the only way in or out is by boat or bus.

This is a great town. It has some of the same feel as the famous five but without the same mass of tourists. The town is long and thin with a castle and church that look over a harbor. The walk up to the castle leads off the main square.

Main Square

Up through the arch to the castle.

Marker on the Tourist Information Tower

The street slants upwards toward the castle and basilica. It has some tourist orient shops and several gelato places. This seems to be far more an Italian tourist area than a foreign one. There was a busload of italian children just coming through as we were heading out. The town extends along a peninsula toward a monastery at the point.

Monastary on the Point

Snuck back beyond a window of stone is a bay of jagged rocks. Through the gated door and down the stone stairs is a great view of the ruggedness of the coast in this area.

Perfectly framed

Where there pirates in Italy?

This was my favorite area of the town. It felt so completely untouristed. Ok, not untouched due to the rickety iron railing that was bolted(?!) to the rock and the trash that was floating around one corner. But if I ignore that part and just gaze at the sharp rocks and the castle that lorded down over both the town and coastline, my imagination went wild.

See my imagination going wild.

I like pictures of doors. This one is green.

Though I don’t have any pictures from up top, the castle is well worth the views and exploration. The castle oversees the entire peninsula. A small fee lets you wander around the fortress and up on the walls. I wonder why I didn’t take any pictures. Really nicely visible from on high is Isola Palmaria. I really know nothing about it, but there are boats doing trips from Portovenere.
Heading down from the castle we took a set of very steep steps that met the main road and then back down to the square for gelato. Doing the steps meant we got to see a tiny bit of the town that looks far more like someone lived in it than it was visited by tourists.
Ok, so Portovenere isn’t as famous as Cinque Terre, but we had a far more relaxed time walking around there. The public bus out there was cheap and provided some really great views as well.

12 thoughts on “Portovenere – Near but not in Cinque Terre

    • The shot is actually an accident. I have so few pictures of myself, so I try self portraits. Some turn out better than others.

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  2. Hi, just returned from 2+ months in Europe – the last month spent in Italy. By this time luggage was WELL overweight and so i didn’t do as much “tourist” shopping as I would have liked. I really wanted to get a “I Heart 5 Terre” tshirt. Does anyone know if there is anywhere online I can get one?? Saw heaps when we were in the Cinque Terre and in Porto Venere – wish I’d bought them then!! Thanks. Bindi

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  5. Great article and pictures. I have not made it to the Cinque Terre, yet, but it is on the “proverbial” list. As much as I want to visit Cinque Terre, I think it would be really great to spend time in a less busy area too and appreciate learning about just that spot!

    • Thank you. Cinque Terre is cool to see indeed, but maybe a day or two in the actual towns themselves. There is so much more in the area. I have a few more “not Cinque Terre” towns to display in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out.

    • Thanks for the compliment. I have a few more “Near but not in Cinque Terre” towns to post over the next few weeks. It is a great region. If you happen to come through Germany to get down there, drop me a Tweet and come by for a beer.

  6. We did (almost) the same thing with my fiance’s parents, but we stayed north of the Cinque Terre in Levanto. It was a chill little town, and we actually left the area talking about how we’d like to return to Levanto and spend more time there, instead of in the Cinque Terre….haha.

    • I remember seeing Levanto on the train coming in and out. Once years ago I must have stopped in the train station for a while, because sifting through some of my old notebooks i have a sketch of the church tower and the town name. Cinque Terre is really neat and cool, but they are somewhat touristed but despite that I didn’t feel that they had much infrastructure for people. It was cool to see them and I would go back, but only with someone who wanted to see them. I don’t think I would hit them up alone again. Genoa is on my list in that area too.

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