Heading out on a Cinque Terre tour is a fabulous option for a day trip from Florence. The five villages are famous worldwide for their stunning views, delicious cuisine, and UNESCO World Heritage status. |
But when visiting the Cinque Terre, tour-goers often miss out on the chance to stop off at nearby Portovenere. The town is one of the Lingurian coast’s most beautiful hidden gems. Here is why you should edge away from the tourist trail and include a visit to Portovenere on your itinerary.
A Beautiful Boat Ride
Many people who do visit Portovenere on a Cinque Terre tour catch their first glimpse of the town’s rainbow rooftops from the vantage of a boat out at sea. The ride to this old fishing village through the Le Bocche channel is simply idyllic.
As you approach the little harbour, make sure to have your camera at the ready. With the slow, constant stream of fishing boats set against the high wall of colourful houses, it will be easy to snap a postcard quality photo.
It’s also possible to hike from Portovenere to Riomaggiore through Portovenere’s regional National Park. Riomaggiore is one of the five towns of the Cinque Terre. Touring there with a guide is highly recommended so that:
You choose a path that isn’t too challenging for your hiking skill level You get to explore the area and find the best views without getting lost You can enjoy hearing about the local history and culture along the way
If you fancy the scenic coastal walk, you could hike in one direction and then take the boat back in the other.
Portovenere’s picturesque nature does not end at the harbour. This UNESCO World Heritage site still boasts much of its original medieval architecture, much of which has been lovingly restored.
When you enter the historic centre through the marvelous 12th century archway, you will be greeted with views of the Via Giovanni Capellini. The central avenue is lined with pastel houses and boutique stores. You can enjoy tasting freshly baked delicacies and purchase handmade souvenirs from the artisan stores while you climb up the hill towards the castle.
The steep climb up to the Castello Doria is well worth the effort. The castle dates back to the 12th century, when it held huge military significance due to its strategic location.
The impressive fortress overlooks a stretch of Ligurian coastline on one side, and what is known as the Bay of Poets on the other. The bay has enchanted many writers and artists throughout history and Mary Shelley and Lord Byron are just two of the literary legends on the list of regular visitors. The best place to enjoy these inspirational views when on your Cinque Terre tour to Portovenere is from the castle’s scenic gardens.
Santuario della Madonna Bianca
Also known as the Church of San Lorenzo, the Santuario della Madonna Bianca can be found perched on the hill right next to the castle. If you are visiting in August, you can stop to join the celebrations of Portovenere’s patron saint, the White Madonna, the namesake of the church.
The building was first constructed in 1130, but has since been restored and refurbished several times. The interiors have nonetheless remained magnificent to this day and have kept their medieval flavour.
These are just a few of the highlights that a trip to Portovenere has in store. If you want to make the most of your stay in this beautiful and iconic region of Italy, I would recommend booking your Portovenere and Cinque Terre tours with a reputable operator. Having a local guide will make all the difference to your enjoyment of the holiday.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy, including incredible options for a Cinque Terre tour. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro's company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you're keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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