Porto Venere is a town and comune located on the Ligurian coast of Italy in the province of La Spezia. It comprises the three villages of Fezzano, Le Grazie and Porto Venere, and the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. In 1997 Porto Venere and the villages of Cinque Terre were designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The ancient Portus Veneris is believed to date back to at least the middle of the 1st century BC. It has been said that the name refers to a temple to the goddess Venus which was sited on the promontory where the church of Peter the Apostle now stands. The name has also been linked to that of the hermit Saint Venerius. In Roman times the city was essentially a fishing community.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Porto Venere became the base of the Byzantine fleet in the northern Tyrrhenian Sea, but was destroyed by the Lombards in 643 AD. Later, it was a frequent target of Saracen raids. First indications of the existence of a castle date from 1113, and in 1161 the walls were erected. Porto Venere became a fiefdom of a family from Vezzano before passing to Genoa in the early 12th century
On 2 December 1797, after the French established their domination in Italy, the town became part of the Department of the Gulf of Venus, with the capital in La Spezia, in the Ligurian Republic annexed to the First French Empire. From 28 April 1798 with the new French law, the territory of Portovenere fell in the seventh canton, as the capital, the Jurisdiction of the Gulf of Venus since 1803 and the main center of the third State of the Gulf of Venus in the jurisdiction of the Gulf of Venus. From 13 June 1805 to 1814 it was included in the Department of the Apennines. It was at this point which, in 1812, it became part of the coastal route called “Route Napoleon” in honor of the French general and now known as localized road 530, which still connects the marine center with La Spezia via Fezzano, Le Grazie and Terizzo.
In 1998 it obtained for its architectural heritage and natural entry in the list of protected World Heritage Site, with the Rolli in Genoa’s historic center and the only two goods entered for Liguria, and in 2001 established eponymous Regional Natural Park.
Coat of arms
The municipal Coat of arms was approved by the special decree of the Head of the Government dated 19 April 1933. In addition to the emblem and banner of the city is the cross of St. George to be also a symbol of civic and historical community of Porto Venere, including banner bearing its coat of arms (the color of Genoa are the flags of the three towers) and wants to emphasize the secular alliance of the village with the ancient Republic of Genoa
The climate is typically Mediterranean, with almost no excess heat in summer and freezing in winter episodes. However, rainfall can be very abundant, especially in autumn and spring, due to the orography of the Riviera di Levante. In the municipal area, the weather station is located on Island of Palmaria, where data can be considered similar to those occurring in Porto Venere and the surrounding areas.
- The Gothic Church of St. Peter, consecrated in 1198. It was built over a pre-existing 5th century Palaeo-Christian church, which had rectangular plan and semicircular apse. The new part, from the 13th century, is marked externally by white and black stripes.
- The Romanesque church of St. Lawrence, erected in 1098 by the Genoese. It probably occupies the site of ancient temple dedicated to Jupiter. The church was damaged by a fire in 1340 and by the Aragonese attack in 1494, and was further restored in 1582.
- The Doria Castle with the walls around the historic center.
- The Grotta dell’Arpaia (now collapsed), known as Byron’s Grotto, from which the English poet Byron swam across the gulf of La Spezia to San Terenzo to visit Shelley in Lerici, in 1822.
- The medieval nucleus of Le Grazie is set around the 14th-century Church of Our Lady of the Graces; nearby is a medieval convent, which once belonged to the Olivetans, and the remains of the 1st century BCE Roman villa of Varignano. Finds from recent excavations at the villa are held in the Antiquarium della Villa Romana del Varignano in Porto Venere.
- In Fezzano the medieval alleyways are noteworthy, along with the church of St. John the Baptist (1740) and the recently restored Villa Cattaneo.
Regional Natural Park
The Regional Natural Park in Porto Venere offers a unique landscape with its high coasts, caves and vegetation that permeates the atmosphere in any season with the changing shades of color. An element that blends and harmonizes every detail is the sea, sometimes calm and clear, so as to reflect like a mirror enchanted multicolored rocks and seagulls, sometimes rough and almost angry. To crown the Park archipelago with three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, defying the blue sea in a swirl of aromas and looks towards the infinite. But the park is not only Nature, History dwells here since prehistoric times with the Cave of the Doves, until the recent past in which Guglielmo Marconi experimented in front of the village his innovative studies.
You will have the opportunity to visit this amazing place as this is one of the ports of call of our cruise leaving Barcelona next Oct 13thfor a week. You will be also visiting Ajaccio in Corsica, Piombino and Portofino in Italy. Also Port Mahon in Menorca. Enjoy this cruise for only 679€ port tax, all inclusive drink package and transport included!!