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.
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.
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.
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.
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.