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A weekend in the Gulf of Poets, within reach of the Cinque Terre
Lerici, Tellaro, Portovenere and the island of Palmaria

Petrarch, Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Goethe, Montale, Calvino… these are just a few of the writers and intellectuals who over the centuries have fallen in love with the Gulf of La Spezia, which consequently became the Gulf of Poets.

Narrow alleys where you can lose yourself among pastel-coloured houses clinging like agaves to the rocky cliff, in perfect Ligurian style. Perched above the sea, the pink church of San Giorgio, the town’s emblem, was built in the 16th century, probably on the ruins of what was once a lookout tower. On the same promontory stands the Oratory of Santa Maria in Selàa, today home to art exhibitions and cultural events.

(ph. Samuele Bertoli – Unsplash)

Dominated by its 13th-century castle, Lerici, along with Portovenere, is one of Liguria’s best-known seaside towns. On Piazza Garibaldi, the lovely main square overlooking the little harbour, stands the tower of San Rocco with its adjoining oratory, but there are also historic residences such as the home of Admiral Andrea Doria, or Ca’ Rugia, a typical example of a tower-house. Meanwhile, San Terenzo boasts Villa Magni, home to “Mr and Mrs Shelley” in 1822. There’s an ancient castle here too – this one from the 15th century – and every year in mid-July it’s the site of the Tana dei Turchi, a historical reenactment of the clash between locals and Saracen pirates. The magnificent gardens of Villa Marigola can be visited subject to booking.

(Lerici ph. Caleb Miller – Unsplash)

A protected natural area along with the Cinque Terre and its islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto), Portovenere is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town’s iconic image is the church of San Pietro perched on its rocky spur. Nearby stand the formidable Doria Castle and the Romanesque church of of San Lorenzo. The largest of the islands, as well as the nearest and the only inhabited one, is Palmaria, where you can enjoy a swim from the small sandy beach, or explore black marble quarries, disused military constructions and ancient fortifications.

(Portovenere ph. Alevision – Unsplash)

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