Along the rugged coastline of the Italian Riviera are five very quaint and picturesque villages dating back to Medieval times. The colorful homes cling to steep terraces and the harbors are filled with fishing boats. This charming area with it’s jagged and steep coastline is known as Cinque Terre.
Originally, when we were planning our Royal Caribbean Cruise to the Mediterranean Coast, the plan was to visit Florence while our ship ported in Livorno. However, as I was exploring the area of northern Italy before our arrival, I knew that my heart was calling me to Cinque Terre and once again, it was the right call. I am all about the quaint and charming and those steep, rugged views, so Cinque Terre was definitely the place for me!
To begin our excursion to Cinque Terre, we took a bus from our ship, Vision of the Seas, to the charming Porto Venere, an old fisherman’s village on the Bay of Poets. The colorful homes that face the shoreline along the marina offer the quaintness and charm that I find captivating. Right by the marina, there is a delightful spot to have a cappuccino and enjoy the views across the Bay of Poets.
From the marina, stroll back a bit from the harbor and you will discover the old town of Porto Venere. Wander through the old city gate, Porto del Borgo, dating back to the 12th century. Once inside follow the steep, narrow streets full of flower and fruit markets and enjoy the many artisan shops along the way.
After a steep climb up the narrow streets built centuries ago, you come upon a beautiful view of the Bay of Poets. The Bay of Poets was a favorite spot of the English poet Lord Byron, where despite of his club foot, he participated in many water escapades.
On the rocky point overlooking the Bay of Poets, stands the Church of St. Peter, also known as the Church of San Pietro. Built in 1198 in Gothic style architecture over a preexisting 5th century pagan temple, the Church of St. Peter stands out prominently boasting it’s distinguished black and white bands for all to see. Over the years, fires and ransacking caused damage to the structure and it was beautifully restored in the early 1930’s. The interior is magnificent and definitely worth the steep climb for a peak inside!
Porto Venere is not actually included in the five villages that create what is known as Cinque Terre. However, it is where our excusion began and it is definitely worth a visit. There is no train service to Porto Venere, however, it can easily be reached by car, bus or ferry boat from La Spezia.
With it’s astounding blend of nature and architecture, as well as it’s mix of history and resort area, Porto Venere is included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and definitely a place to add to your bucket list of places to see!
“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By deep sea, and music is it’s roar.” – Lord Byron
Next post will include our boat trip along Cinque Terre to Portofino. – Arrivederci for now!