Cinque Terre

Porto Venere: A Complete Guide by a Local

Is Porto Venere worth a visit? YES! In this complete guide, I’ll tell you exactly why!

Porto Venere is located 11 km far from La Spezia and together with the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto it represents one of the Gulf extremities. Since 1997, it has been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site, alongside Cinque Terre.

History

It takes its name from Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. There was a temple dedicated to her right at the end of the promontory upon which the Church of Saint Peter stands nowadays.

Its origins date back to the 1 century b.C. It has been under the control of Byzantines and partially destroyed by Longobards around 643. In the next centuries it has been used as naval base by the Maritime Republic of Genoa, France and Sardinia.

porto venere

How to Arrive

You can easily get there by bus (No.11/P from La Spezia), by car, or by ferryboat from La Spezia harbor. It takes around 20 minutes using the bus/car and around 30 with the ferryboat. From Cinque Terre /Levanto you can also take the ferryboat. If you enjoy hiking, there is also a hiking trail you can start from Riomaggiore. It takes 4 hours but it’s simply stunning!

Porto Venere Complete Guide: Main Things to See

Carugio

The Carugio is the main street of the village. In northern Italy, especially in Liguria, this term refers to narrow streets, typical of the Riviera. Following it, you will get to S.Pietro Church.

A typical feature of Porto Venere is the parallel construction of its streets. The entire village is organized in small narrow streets one above the other in parallel lines.

S.Pietro (Peter) Church

The origins of the church date back to the V century. This peculiar construction stands out on a cliff at the end of a small promontory. Nowadays, couples from all over the world come here to celebrate their wedding. Its terrace is an awesome viewpoint of the coastline and the open sea.

Doria Castle and S.Lorenzo Church

Doria Castle stands upon the entire village in all its greatness. It was built by the Maritime Republic of Genoa, to defend the village from attacks around 1130. Today you can visit it and enjoy its panoramic terrace.

The Chuch of San Lorenzo is located between the Castle and the historical center of the village. It was built by the Republic of Genoa around 1120, in roman style. One of its main features is its function as the sanctuary of the Madonna Bianca, protector of the village.

Palmaria Island

It is the largest island in the Gulf of La Spezia and it also is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s just 1,89 km2  but it offers a lot of trekking trails, some restaurants on both sides and beautiful pebble and sand beaches.

Grotta Byron

It is a natural cave along the coastline, just below the Doria Castle. You can admire it from S.Pietro square but also from the “beach” made of rocks and so popular among locals. It is dedicated to the poet George Byron, who used to come to the Gulf of La Spezia in search of inspiration.

Porto Venere: Tips by a Local

  • Where and what to eat: if you are looking for a typical restaurant with affordable prices I suggest Osteria del Carugio, located in the main street.
  • You will find the best ice cream ever at Pitonetta IceCream Shop, in the middle of the carugio. It has also made up flavors all inspired by the villages of the Riviera!
  • Hiking: I suggest you to give it a try and do the hiking trails in Palmaria Island. It has a really varied nature and offers some stunning viewpoints on Porto Venere and Tino Island.

Hope you liked this article!

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