Portovenere, Italy. What to see and where to eat?


The small village of Portovenere (Porto Venere or Portovenere) is located in the Ligurian Gulf of La Spezia. It is surrounded on one side by a wall of rocky mountains, so you can get there from the North, through Cinque Terre.

The settlement, which was mainly inhabited by fishermen, takes its name from the Roman goddess of love, Venus: a small promontory overlooking the sea was once home to a magnificent temple in her honour. But in the 6th century the temple was destroyed and in its place was built a small church of St Peter – the patron saint of fishermen.

Today this town is one of the recognized Italian resorts, which is famous for its rich history, beaches, sights and fish restaurants serving various seafood dishes. The resort is popular with tourists, so it is quite difficult to book a room in local hotels during the summer vacation period.


Bright impressions from the rest in this wonderful village will be complemented by excellent local cuisine. The traditional dish of Portovenere is a soup of sea dates, clams that are extracted from the local rocks. Octopus is also very popular here, in honor of which the town holds the festival. Apart from seafood delicacies the local establishments serve traditional Italian cuisine, generously seasoned with spicy herbs from the province of La Spezia.

@lore1195 PH Lorenzo Del Polito

Entertainment, attractions and excursions

Portovenere is a small cozy provincial town, like many in Italy, but it has a special charm. It has a fascinating history, dating back to the 6th century B.C., the time of the Roman Empire. Ruins of the ancient Villa Varignano, built in the 2nd century B.C., testify to the former luxury of Portovenere.

The town also has sights of later eras. Among them are the 11th century Cathedral of St. Lawrence and the Roman Gate separating the old part of town from the more modern.

Also worth seeing is the majestic castle-fortress of Dorino, which served as the ancestral home of a noble Italian family and had a defensive function. This building, with its strictness and solemnity, blends seamlessly into the local landscape; the castle is surrounded by centuries-old trees and rocky mountains. The central street of Capellini, decorated with portals of slate, leads to Piazza San Pietro, located on the coast. On the square, right on the cliff, is the 13th-century church of the same name. From here you have a wonderful view of the coast and the Apuan Alps, as well as of Cinque Terre.

Portovenere is ideal for leisurely strolls as the local scenery is a haven for contemplation. Its tranquil and peaceful atmosphere has attracted many creative people- poets, writers, and thinkers. Locals call La Spezia the “Bay of Poets”. It’s here, in the secluded grotto, that Lord Byron waited for his muse; and Dante wrote his famous “Divine Comedy”.

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Above the bay along the sea are a wall of picturesque houses with colorful walls, which in the old days played the role of a kind of fortress, and today is the main decoration of the city.

The architectural appearance of this ancient town has hardly changed. Once a small fishing village, the town today retains an atmosphere of peace and harmony. Here time flows slowly, there is no fuss, but life is pulsating.

Sea tours

The beauty of Portovenere can be seen only from the board of a ship.

In the summer, the ferries of Portovenere offer regular boat excursions to Cinque Terre and the islet of Palmaria, that is separated from Portovenere by the narrow strait of Boque. To see the picturesque grottoes of the island (Grotta Azurra), you have to get to them by boat. In Palmaria there are several hiking trails and the popular beach of Pozzale.

To get to know the city better and see the pristine landscapes, untouched by civilization, it is best to take a boat trip along the coast. You can easily reach all the grottoes of the Bay of La Spezia by boat or boat, or the neighboring islands, where you can enjoy all the charms of seclusion and romance at sea. The grottoes of Palmaria have a special mysterious atmosphere.

For lovers of the underwater world, the diving center regularly organizes excursions.

There is also a boat trip to the protected village of Cinque Terre, which is considered a natural monument and is protected by UNESCO.

For lovers of mountain climbing, a climbing expedition to the beautiful peak of Monte Mozzerone, in the neighbouring village of Le Grazie, is a must.

Where to go

Fans of the prestigious and trendy resorts in Liguria: in Alassio and San Remo; fans of more democratic places – in Diano Marina, on the pebbly beach of Arenzano, in a quiet and peaceful island of Camogli or in Portofino.

Rapallo with its ancient temples and the protected Portovenere also await its guests.

For a family vacation, Arma di Taggi with its gentle beaches and calm sea and for those who live the nightlife, Bordighera and Pietre Ligure are perfect.

For those who want to go on a romantic journey, you can go to Lerici and Sestri-Levante. Those who like solitude and silence will do well in Levanto, and those who want to marry well – in the resort of Santa Margherita Ligure.

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If you go to Italy, you should visit the medieval fortress with frescoes of Raffaelino and Giulio de Rossi, located in Portofino, the old port of Genoa, the Church of St. Peter in La Spezia and just take a walk through the streets of San Remo.

For romantics, the famous Cinque Terre Park is an ideal place.

Many experiences will bring a tour of Monaco – Nice, the “fashion capital” Milan, and of course the beautiful Florence.

Portovenere, Italy. What to see and where to eat?

On this page: Sightseeing, Beaches, Islands and Ships, Getting there, Holidays with kids, Hotels, Where to eat, Nordic Walking, Videos.

Features: This corner of Italy is a little off the main tourist roads, but is considered one of the main gems of Liguria.

Portovenere, Italy

Pros and Cons:

Pros: The beauties and romance, rich history and tourist services are all that Italy is famous for.

Cons: You can say that there are no beaches in the classical sense of the word – you’ll have to sunbathe on the rocks or swim to good beaches by boat. Not the best place to travel around the area (Cinque Terre, etc.) – no train station – only bus and ferry service. The main attractions are at a decent altitude in relation to sea level. The excursion will be combined with physical training.

Where to swim

In the town itself you can find places to swim, but in the sea you have to go in from the rocks or stones. Some daredevils even swim in Byron’s Bay, where the great poet did it – near Azur’s grotto – but it’s not easy to get back on the rocks there, especially if there is a sea disturbance.

Still, Portovenere can, with some stretch, be called a beach resort. A few minutes by boat on the narrow strait “Bocque” and you are on the island of Palmaria, at the wonderful beach of Pozzale.

Alternatively, you can go a little further, to Lerici, where there are also wonderful pebble beaches.

Why visit

Portovenere is one of the most romantic, famous and beautiful places in Liguria. It welcomes tourists who come here with a picturesque harbor, along the coastline which is lined with colorful houses overhanging the sea and above it, the monumental buildings of the castle and the church of San Pietro attract the eye. The town, along with neighboring Cinque Terre, is one of Northern Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is generally less crowded than the villages of Cinque Terre. Nearby are the islands – also sites of tourist interest (marked by UNESCO). The bay of La Spezia is famous for its beauty.

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Narrow streets, lacquered by tourists steps of the castle, soft sea breeze. Boats and boats on the shore – some offer excursions to different bays, on the other fishermen brought the catch, which will be delivered to nearby restaurants, of which there are many.

For romantics and poets

These places are associated with the names of great poets: Petrarch, Shelley, Byron. It’s not hard to guess what attracted these romantics here. The majestic remains of an ancient castle, towering over tiny fishing villages. Witnesses of grandiose historical events that left no memory with its inhabitants. The reeds of time, the futility of human aspirations. And to top it all off, an extraordinarily spectacular seascape.

A history you can touch.

In times immemorial there was a temple of Venus where the church of St. Peter stands now. Later, the hermit Venerius lived here somewhere. Some of these facts helped the future port settlement to acquire the name Portus Veneris. It was in such a convenient location for the basing of the fleet that wars were constantly fought over it. In the 12th century (at that time the port already belonged to Genoa) here was built a powerful fortress. At the end of the 15th century, during the war with Spain (Aragonia), the city was heavily damaged, and instead of its old part, the new area – Borgo Nuovo was restored and developed. The fortress is still in good condition and today is a wonderful tourist attraction.

Attractions and excursions:

Old Town and Doria Castle-Fortress. Via Capellini City Gate, towers, ancient mill towers. Church of San Lorenzo (upper) Church of San Pietro (on a rock). From here you can see extraordinary panoramas: over the bay, all the way to La Spezia, and up to the mountains – the Apuan Alps. Byron’s Grotto – it is believed that the great English poet and swimmer loved to swim here. Three neighboring islands. You can take a boat to Palmaria – for a beach or a tour, or you can sail between the islands, admiring the views of the “Bay of the Poets”. Monte Mozzerone in the nearby village of Le Grazie, you can go on a small hike to admire the beautiful scenery. There are also other hiking trails (see below).

Excursion trips around the area by cab cost an average of €250 for 6 hours.


Palmaria, the largest, Tino, the middle one, and Tinetto, the smallest, are also listed by UNESCO. A boat trip between them is a must on the sightseeing program. The views of the islands and the city itself from the sea are very beautiful. In addition, you can see up close Byron’s grotto and the grottoes of Palmaria. The standard “Poetic Cruise” takes about 40 minutes and cost 25 euros in 2014. Tip: Try to sit on the starboard side of the ship-the ships sail around the island in a clockwise direction.

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Those who disembark on Palmaria can spend time on the beach of Pozzaleh or in the restaurants, or they can travel around the island – there are many hiking trails and also very beautiful views. There is also a castle of its own. It is a nature reserve, and tourists who are lucky enough to see wild goats.

The island of Tino is accessible only once a year, on September 13, when the festival in honor of St. Venus takes place. His abode was located here. There are remnants of an abbey on the island’s northern shore, and there are also German fortifications from World War II. The island falls under the jurisdiction of the Italian Navy. Anyone sailing around Tino can see the statue of Madonna Bianchi protruding from the sea.

The tiny island of Tinetto is more like a big rock. There is very little vegetation, but it is home to a species of lizard that is found nowhere else in the world.

With a child

All children love this castle town. If tired of playing by the sea and swimming, walks around the city and bicycles can be a substitute. And the first, with climbs up stone stairs, usually take so much energy that the bike is not very attractive. Above the church of San Lorenzo there is a playground – perhaps the most wonderful in the world, judging by the views from it. Another playground is right by the sea near the Belvedere Hotel. And then there are boat rides – just excursions and sailing to the islands. Children have impressions to last a lifetime.

How to get here

Regular waterway route

The easiest way to get here is to take a regular ferry or sightseeing boats from Lerici, La Spezia or a village in Cinque Terre. There are stations of the main railroad running along the coast everywhere, but not in Portovenere itself.

Ferry schedule (usually valid from April to November, but subject to change):

Prices: full-day adult ticket on the Lerici – Cinque Terre line is €25, children €15. Shorter distance and one-way tickets are cheaper. The line “Lerici – Portovenere” and back – 12 and 7 euros, one way – 7 euros. The official website of the maritime service: www.navigazionegolfodeipoeti.it/htm/eng/index.php .

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The timetable is selected under “Scheduled and Rates”.

Here you’ll find the exact prices and the most up-to-date schedule (changes from season to season, more often in autumn and spring).

By car you can get to Portovenere by the narrow winding road off the A12, but in the summer months it’s difficult to find easy parking.

There are regular bus services to La Spezia.


With a typical Mediterranean climate typical of the Riviera di Levante. Fluctuations in temperature – daily and seasonal – are pronounced. In winter, there are very few cases of atypically cold or frosty days. In summer, the heat is mitigated by the sea breeze. Precipitation is rare in summer, but can be abundant in fall and spring. The temperature data is identical to that given for Monterosso.

Visit to Portovenere – Video.

For hikers and Nordic walkers

From Portovenere to Riomaggiore you can walk along a hiking trail. It is not a long way – it takes 4 hours at a brisk hiking pace. The path is very interesting and beautiful, with views of the open sea, the Gulf of La Spezia and the mountains. At the point where the trail enters the highway, it is necessary to go down it a bit and the trail begins again. It is best not to ask the local peasants about the road – they do not hike themselves and may not know that it is possible to walk to Riomaggiore. The trail is marked and in some places it is landscaped.


The town has chic hotels and some more basic ones, including bed and breakfasts. You can find a hotel in the old town or close to its walls or in the neighboring villages on the coast: Le Grazie or Fezzano. The best are without doubt the four-star Grand Hotel Portovenere, located in a former monastery and the three-star Belvedere.

Where to eat

There are plenty of restaurants here. The peculiarity is that you can eat dishes made of freshly caught fish and seafood. Since the area is considered prestigious, prices in some establishments can be very high (especially in Palmaria), but affordable offers. We can recommend the Bacicio café and restaurant on the main street – quite simple, but with very tasty pizzas and pastas (Via Capellini, 17). The restaurant Le Bocche attracts also with its dishes and views from the terrace, it is somewhat more solid (Calata Doria, 102).

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