Saturday, June 07, 2008

Portovenere, a lovely Italian surprise

Portovenere was not really in our agenda, however when we were in Riomaggiore (one of the five villages of Cinque Terre) checking out the cliffs, we found this boat service going to Portovenere. The man behind the counter says it’s only a 20-minute boat ride. It’s very tempting indeed considering the Dutch mother was very enthusiastic about the place. She said it’s very pretty. Oh dear, decisions, decisions.

Let’s just say that in the hurl of the moment, Blondine and I bought re-tour tickets. Get on board, ahoy!

Rounding the cape of Portovenere as we sail towards the harbour, we see the imposing old Church of St. Peter on its promontory looking more like a watchtower than a church.

Arriving in Portovenere was quite dramatic. This once upon a time fishing village is by the way now a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. From the distance we could see the gothic inspired Church of St. Peter, circa 11th century, rising with pride above the isthmus, the white clouds and bright blue skies behind completing the whole backdrop. Beside the church are the remains of Doria Castle, and further to the left, on top of the intimidating, rugged and massive boulders, we caught sight of Lord Byron’s Grotto. The whole setting is so picturesque, so dramatic—oops, I was feeling a bit nostalgic, he-he.

Portovenere and the Doria Castle in the background.

The dark and intimidating rock cliffs with the ancient architecture sitting on top were a grand sight to behold. Everything looked so breathtaking from the sea, and I could hear the oohs and aahs and the wows from fellow passengers.

When the boat curved around the cape, we sighted the town, and very typical of the Mediterranean, a long line of tall and lean beautiful pastel and terracotta coloured buildings clustered together fills the marina as well as immaculate white luxurious yachts. Welcome to Portovenere!

Portovenere Marina scenes

We had our late lunch here in a pretty restaurant in the marina, and ordered a set of seafood tapas which turned out to be a real delight. YUMMY. The anchovies were simply excellent (I want more lol), it was the best of all the assorted seafood tapas we ordered. A thick 5 stars out of 5! You know, you can never go wrong in Italy when it comes to food.

Yummy seafood tapas; those achovies seasoned with pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and lemon squeeze were grand! 

 Narrow alleyways filled with charming shops inside the old town of Portovenere.

Genius, a pasta penne curtain =)

The big square going to the church on the promontory.

Last picture together for the day in Portovenere.

Trivia: Did you know that the trademark of the locals, doesn't matter if they are teenagers, grandmas, a man, a woman, an executive or cleaner -- huge, if not flashy sunglasses is what distinguishes the truest to form (and stereotype) Italians from the foreigners. No joke!

We were really glad that we took the spontaneous chance to visit Portovenere. When in Liguria and visiting Cinque Terre and the Portofino area, Portovenere is a highly recommended stop to combine.

Travel Period: May 2008
Destination: Portovenere (La Spezia - Liguria), Italy

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