Le Cinque Terre.org

Webcam of Portovenere

Videos of Portovenere


The castle of Portovenere
The castle of Portovenere


The church of San Pietro
The church of San Pietro

The church of San Lorenzo

The Palmaria island


Portovenere information index:

- History
- What to see
- Where to sleep
- Where to eat and restaurants
- Beaches
- Trekking
- Gastronomy
- Traditional holidays
- How to get there
- Boat tours
- Weather forecast

Portovenere is considered by some to be the sixth land, as it often appears in tourist souvenirs. But this is not the case, it is instead part of the Gulf of Poets, together with La Spezia and Lerici, despite being like the Cinque Terre, a World Heritage Site.
Its territory occupies the western end of the gulf, together with the Palmaria island and the islets of Tino and Tinetto.

Of Roman origin, it probably owes its name to a temple dedicated to Venus Ericina, erected where today the church of San Pietro stands out. Conquered and devastated by the Lombards in the eighth century, it was an important port of call administered by the Colombanian monks of the Abbey of Bobbio. In the 10th century it was a possession of the Lords of Vezzano, vassals of the bishops of Luni and in the first half of the 12th century it entered the orbit of Genoa, to which we owe the castle, the church of San Lorenzo and the defensive structure of the village with its tall houses towers.
For many years Portovenere repelled the attacks of the Pisans and in 1245 Pope Innocent IV arrived in the village, fleeing from Emperor Frederick II, helped by the Genoese fleet. After a troubled period in which it passed to Charles VI of France, the Kingdom of Aragon and Florence, it returned to the hands of the Serenissima, which further fortified it with the construction in the seventeenth century of the battery of San Francesco, the fort of Sant'Ambrogio and of the Scola Tower.
With the fall of Genoa under the blows of Napoleon, in 1812 the coastal road was built that connects the town to Spezia, passing through Fezzano and Le Grazie. Then followed the fate of the area until the unification of Italy.

What to see
The old part of Portovenere starts from Piazza Bastreri, where there is the capitular tower which indicates the beginning of the village, gate to the historic center, bearing the inscription Colonia Januensis 1113, with the main street, Via Cappellini, a typical Ligurian "caruggio" (small street), while the seafront runs parallel to the Calata Doria.
Here are the main monuments, in the highest part the church of San Lorenzo, from the 12th century, in Romanesque style, heavily remodeled in the 16th century and the castle of Portovenere, dominated the town, built by the Republic of Genoa in 1161 and enlarged and modernized between the 15th and 17th centuries.
Overlooking the sea, in front of the Palmaria island, stands the stupendous church of San Pietro, an ancient building, originally from the 5th century and modified over the centuries in Genoese Gothic style. In front of the church, in the direction of the castle, you can see Byron's cave, where, according to tradition, the famous English Romantic poet swam.

On the Palmaria island there are nineteenth-century forts, such as Forte Cavour, in ruins and Forte Umberto I, renovated, and the Semaforo Battery, a traffic light station of the twentieth century. In front of the Terrizzo, that is the easternmost part, there is an islet with a defensive construction, the Torre Scola. Further south are the islets of Tino and Tinetto. The first with the remains of the Abbey of San Venerio, from the 7th century, the second with the ruins of an early Christian oratory and a church dating from the 11th century.

The municipality of Portovenere also includes the beautiful sea villages of Fezzano and Le Grazie. In Fezzano, placed in an inlet with the typical colored houses, there is the church of San Giovanni Battista, while at La Grazie, in part occupied by the military port, stands the church of Nostra Signora delle Grazie.

Where to sleep
There are many possibilities to stay in Portovenere, mainly in the ancient village, although there are naturally some structures on the hills and in the towns of Fezzano and Le Grazie. The offer mainly concerns hotels, b&bs and guesthouses.
Find out where to sleep in Portovenere.

Where to eat and restaurants
To taste these dishes, here are some restaurant recommendations:

  • Ristorante Portivene: in the Portovenere alleyway, an elegant and refined restaurant with fish dishes.
  • Palmaria Restaurant: refined restaurant with sea view with fish dishes.
  • Ristorante Miramare: seafront restaurant with outdoor tables and terrace.
  • Ristorante Il Timone: Ligurian cuisine of sea and land, historic restaurant with outdoor tables.

  • Beaches
    Although the Ligurian coast in this stretch of the Gulf of Poets is very indented, there are some possibilities for swimming in Portovenere. A first beach is located at the beginning of the village, the Mirella free beach, a small free pebble beach, closed between the marina and the Le Terrazze Beach & Pool establishment.
    The promenade continues with the Bagni Sporting Beach, another strip of pebbles, which continues to the free beach of the Olivo and with large rocks, used in summer for sunbathing, till the beach of Bagni Arenella.
    Close to Piazza Bastreri, at the beginning of the town, there is a small sandy beach. Then the large rocks continue up to the church of San Pietro. On the right of the church, near Byron's cave, it is possible to swim and spread the towel on the rock.
    On the island of Palmaria, on the other hand, the free beach of Punta Secco is located in front of Portovenere, equipped by Gabbiano Beach, which is also a small resort, bar and restaurant. On the opposite side, in front of the Tino, there is the Pozzale beach, pebbly, reachable by sea or by a path.
    Other coves and inlets accessible only by sea are the Gabbiani beach and Cala Fornace, a continuation of the Pozzale beach towards the Terrizzo.
    Finally, in Fezzano and Le Grazie there are two small stretches of free beach, closed between the marinas and military bases.

    Discover the beaches of Portovenere and beaches of Palmaria Island, mainly made of stones.

    Trekking trails
    Portovenere is the departure or arrival point of one of the most beautiful trails in Liguria, the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre (High Path of the Cinque Terre), which climbs steeply from Piazza Bastreri, passing close to Fort Muzzerone, towards Campiglia and the Telegrafo. This is the path 598-1 (AV5T 1). From here you can continue towards Levanto or go down to Riomaggiore along path 593.
    Another very interesting path leads to Le Grazie. It is the path of Via Mortea, 518C of the CAI, which in an hour and a half crosses this mysterious area halfway up the hill. The name of the path is in fact due to the story of a girl who inspired a local legend.
    From Fezzano instead begins the Sentiero nel Bosco, same journey time, which climbs up to join the Alta Via delle Cinque Terre.
    Finally, on the island of Palmaria, from the Terrizzo, where the boats dock, a loop called "Periplo dell'Isola Palmaria" (circumnavigation) begins, 3 hours and 30 minutes, for experienced hikers, with a difference in height of 198 meters.

    Hike Portovenere trekking path.

    A Ligurian seaside resort, Portovenere follows the tradition of the La Spezia province. Already from the seafront you can see offshore the mussel farms, a typical dish of the village. To be enjoyed fried, stuffed with breadcrumbs, with spaghetti or with garlic, oil and parsley. In Portovenere they also farm oysters, sea bream and sea bass, so the "fritto misto" is worth trying.
    Of course the dishes with pesto (trofie, spaghetti, lasagne...), focaccia, octopus cooked in many different ways, in carpaccio, stewed, or in salads.
    Among the dishes of land, certainly the "mesciua", a soup of legumes, the "panissa co e sioule", fried morsels of chickpea flour.

    Traditional holidays
    The main and most characteristic festivals of Portovenere have to do as usual with religion.
    On 24 June in Fezzano, San Giovanni Battista, patron saint of the village, is celebrated with a festival with a craft and food and wine fair-market, shows, a painting exhibition and a rowing competition.
    On 17 August in Portovenere the Madonna Bianca patron saint of the town is celebrated. Small altars and flower garlands are placed in the alleys and the traditional evening procession takes place up to the church of San Pietro. Thus we recall the miracle that in the fourteenth century saw a discolored image of the Madonna return to its original bright colors, together with the Child and two small figures of Saints.
    On 8 September, instead, Our Lady of Grace is celebrated, at Le Grazie, where the miraculous image of the Madonna of 1432 attributed to Andrea de Aste is prayed. The celebrations include a painting exhibition, the launch of Navy Paratroopers, musical evenings, theatrical performances and the gastronomic Octopus Festival.
    Finally, on 13 September, it is San Venerio, patron saint of the Gulf of La Spezia, in memory of the hermit monk who settled on the island of Tino in the seventh century. The evocative marine procession carries the statue of the Saint from La Spezia to the island. Visits are allowed here only on 13 September and the following Sunday, since we are in the military area.

    How to get there
    Portovenere can be reached by car, bus or boat. By car, the road is quite simple, about fifteen km from the center of La Spezia, about 25 minutes journey.
    Given the particular morphology of the village, it is not easy to find a parking space in Portovenere. The center from Piazza Bastreri onwards is a limited traffic area (ZTL). There are four paid parking areas: P1 along Via Olivo, P2 near the Arenella beach, P3 upwards towards the Salita Cavo and Via Garibaldi, the Gulf car park, the farthest one, in Cavo, towards Le Grazie. Detailed information for parking in Portovenere.
    There is a very convenient bus service between La Spezia and Portovenere, with three stops in La Spezia: Hospital Via Veneto, Via Chiodo Portici and Via Fiume, in front of the train station. The bus then stops at Stadio Picco, Marola, Fezzano, Le Grazie, Cavo, Portovenere.
    Finally, by boat, the Navigazione Golfo dei Poeti company connects La Spezia and Lerici with Portovenere on one side and the Cinque Terre with Portovenere on the other.
    Find out how to get to Portovenere in detail.

    Boat tours
    From Calata Doria there are many private operators who organize boat trips to visit the Palmaria island, the Tino and the Tinetto, or the fascinating rocky coast in the direction of Riomaggiore. Boat trips from Portovenere
    Portovenere is also one of the main points from where the boats to the Cinque Terre depart.

    Weather forecast
    Weather forecasts are very important for planning a holiday or boat trip. Check the weather in Portovenere.