Portovenere, between caves and castles: what to see in the Gulf of Poets

byVerónica Crocitti

Portovenere is the smallest municipality of La Spezia and, together with the Cinque Terre, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Portovenere needs no description, it strikes you in the heart from the very first moment. It is the smallest municipality in the Ligurian province of La Spezia and, together with its neighboursFive lands, has had the advantage of being included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. With its small beaches and colorful houses overlooking the sea, Portovenere forms the western part of the Gulf of La Spezia, also calledGulf of Poets.

Walking through its narrow streets gives relief to the eyes and the heart. From the Sanctuary of the Madonna Bianca to the Doria Castle, from the Byron Marine Caves (from the name of the great poet who found inspiration and meditation here for his literary works) to the more than suggestive Church of San Pietro… this seaside village will amaze you in every corner.

WHERE TO SLEEP IN PORTOVENERE: Find all the accommodation offers


Portovenere is a seaside village which, within it, contains places of interest of extraordinary beauty. The main streets branch off from Piazza Bastreri (100 meters from the bus stop). It is here that you will find the Pro Loco (where you can ask for information), theGate of the Borgo(the actual access to the village) as well as the beginning of the Sentiero l'Infinito which, after about 14 kilometers of climbs and steps, leads toRiomaggiore. Passing the Porta del Borgo, you will find yourself in via Capellini, the main street of the town, full of small shops and souvenirs. At the end of this, the majestic risesSt. Peter's Church, the "Christian temple" that Eugenio Montale mentioned in one of his poems dedicated to Porto Venere. Next to it, overlooking the sea, opens the famousLord Byron's Cave, the place where the writer used to retire to find meditation and inspiration for his works. Along the road, as if to want to watch over that natural spectacle, stands the statue ofMother Nature.

Higher up, dominating everything, stands theDoria Castle, one of the most majestic military buildings of the Republic of Genoa in eastern Liguria. At his feet you will find theSanctuary of the White Madonna, Patroness of the community solemnly celebrated on August 17th.

WHERE TO SLEEP IN PORTOVENERE: Find all the accommodation offers

In front of the splendid Portovenere, separated by a narrow arm of the sea called Le mouth, it risesPalmaria, the largest island of the La Spezia archipelago and of all the five Ligurian islands. Along with the little onesTino and Tinetto, it has been included among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The island has a triangular shape and is characterized by cliffs overlooking the water and caves that can only be visited by boat. Among these, the most famous are theBlue Cave and the Cave of the Colombi(reachable only by descending with ropes).


Portovenere is located in the province of La Spezia, about half an hour's drive from the Central Station. It is possible to reach the village:

  • In the car: about 30 minutes from Central Station;
  • By bus: the cost of a one-way ticket is 2.50 euros and it can be purchased in bars or tobacconists. The starting point is at the crossroads between Via Garibaldi and Corso Cavour and the journey takes about 30 minutes;
  • By boat: the crossing takes about 30 minutes, there are well-established timetables and the ticket (one way) costs 6 euros. The departure is at the Port of La Spezia. In Portovenere there is also the possibility of making a tour of the Three Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto).

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