Portovenere is a bright town packed with history located just south of the Cinque Terre. A Cinque Terre bonus town if you will! In fact, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the Cinque Terre in 1997. Like the Cinque Terre, Portovenere is laid back, colorful and has delicious food and unbelievable scenery! Unlike the Cinque Terre, Portovenre has less American tourists and misses the bulk the Cinque Terre crowds. As a result, Portovenere is a great option for those who really want to disconnect and get away from it all! I visited in August 2015 and had such a great time!
What To Do?
Everyone knows that there is hiking and picture taking the Cinque Terre, but what to do in Portovenere? Actually, a lot, and history buffs will have even more boxes to check (Portovenere dates back to 1st century B.C.)!
For starters, Portovenere is quite small, and you can walk the entire town. My first “must do” is a leisurely stroll through the old, winding streets. Lovely old school Europe! Take your camera! If you like shopping, I found the sounvenir shopping in Portovenere to be a step above that in the Cinque Terre.
While strolling, be sure to stop into my favorite shop in Portovenere, Bajeico: La Bottega del Pesto! Bajeico is on one of Portovenere’s main thoroughfares (i.e. cobblestone streets) and makes THE BEST PESTO out of fresh basil grown on premises! You cannot miss his shop – the fresh basil is on display! If you come here, please, please buy the biggest jar you can find. THIS PESTO IS AMAZING!!!!
After strolling the town, a walk up the hill to the Gothic Church of St. Peter is another “must do.” It dates back to 1198. While uphill, the walk is not difficult. Take note that the centuries old stones paving the walk up are a bit slippery. Entrance is free.
St. Peter’s also has some amazing views overlooking the sea!
Grotto dell’Arpia (aka Byron’s Grotto) is another “must see.” Located just below St. Peter’s church (far side from the marina), the actual grotto where Lord Byron began his swim across the Gulf of La Spezia apparently has collapsed, but the views and legend are still breathtaking! Great photo ops here. A lot of Italian tourists also sun themselves on the rocky shore.
Finally, a stroll by the marina to check out all the yachts is a “must do.” Portovenere’s marina, or port, is full of fancy yachts. Many expensive yachts, such as the Emirates Air yacht (complete with helicopter), dock here before sailing to Sardinia. You never know who you will see! The marina is located right in front of Portovenere’s most famous string of colorful houses!
Also gorgeous at night, when the entire town lights up!
Where to Eat
For a small town, Portovenere has some delicious restaurants that fill up! I recommend calling a bit in advance or be prepared to wait.
Le Bocche – Le Bocche is an upscale, delicious restaurant at the very end of the main street along the marina We went on a random Sunday night and almost all of their seats were reserved, so call ahead. The food here was amazing, and its speciality is fresh seafood. If you are in Portovenere, you should try to eat here! Prices were not cheap, but reasonable for such quality food. Some highlights:
Tarttoria Tre Torri – Another delicious choice, located in the main square just off the marina. We went here on a Tuesday night and had to wait for a table! Like le Bocche, Tre Torri’s speciality is fresh seafood! Highlights of this dinner: Anchovies, fresh fish, calamari and a delicious dessert!
Bar Lamia – Try Lamia for some delicious gelato. We tried pistachio and nutella, and our friends raved about the lemon!
How to Get to Portovenere?
One downside to Portovenere (or upside depending on who you look at it), is that it is a bit difficult to reach! If coming by train, take the train to La Spezia and then get a cab or local bus from the train station to Portovenere. Cost of the taxi is about € 35,00. If you are coming by car, note that the road to Portovenere is quite windy and not the easiest drive. Alternatively, you can come by water. Boats connect Portovenere during the day! Check schedules posted at the marina for the latest schedule!
My Favorite About Portovenere?
Dan and my friends were staying in Portovenere at the lovely Grand Hotel Portovenere when we visited, and they were nice enough to invite us up to their private balcony overlooking the marina for prosseco and pesto! Portovenere is really good for things like that – just watching the day go by!
Steal Our Trip
Le Bocche – Calata Doria, 102, Portovenere SP, Italy. T: +39 0187 790622. I recommend calling ahead the day of day or two before and make a reservation.
Trattoria Tre Torri – Piazza Bastreri 9/a, Portovenere. T. 0187 790477. firstname.lastname@example.org
Closed on Wednesday. This restaurant is popular. Call ahead or expect to wait.
Bajeico: La Bottega del Pesto – Via Capellini, 70, 19025 Porto Venere (SP) – Italy
T. +39 0187 791054. Sadly, they do not ship to the U.S.
Bar Lamia – Piazza marina 4, Porto Venere, Italy. No reservations.
Grand Hotel Portovenere – Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 5, 19025 Portovenere (SP). Tel +39 0187 777 751. email@example.com. Our friends stayed here and loved it. They were generous enough to host us on their private balcony two nights to drink prosecco! Their room was really nice and their balcony had a stunning view of the port. You can make reservations online. If you want their experience, reserve a room overlooking the port!