Cinque Terre part 3
With our quest for adventure now running rampant, we decided to take a day-trip and explore beyond the five villages of Cinque Terre. It was a toss up between heading north to Portofino, or south to Portovenere. For no special reason, we ended up choosing Portovenere.
We took the train to La Spezia and trying to be frugal, we bought bus tickets for the second half of the journey. We had a hard time finding the bus stop and everyone we asked simply waved their hand in the same direction. After finding the stop (or at least we thought so), we waited well over an hour, and no bus. We returned to the station and were told the bus comes every twenty minutes. At this point we gave up and took a taxi, so much for being frugal.
We arrived to what was well worth the price of the thirty-minute taxi ride. A long strip of colorful buildings stood under a cobalt sky and along the shoreline of an aqua-blue marina. Small open boats filled with fishing nets, bobbed along side prestigious sailboats and super-sized yachts.
The ancient town was like a hidden treasure, just waiting to be explored and that is exactly what we did. We first wandered out to the gothic church of ‘St. Pietro’ (Saint Peter), which was consecrated on its rocky point in 1198 and built over a preexisting fifth century church. The church stands on a promontory with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean all around it. Like all Italian churches, the atmosphere inside was cool, dark and serene. At the bottom of the peninsula is a small grotto, called ‘Byron Grotto‘ after the poet, who loved to take refuge here during his stays.
Afterwards we made our way up to the high ground on roads that were built hundreds of years ago, leading to ‘Castello Doria’ (Doria Castle). The castle dominates the landscape and teetering on the edge, it overlooks a steep jagged coastline, the magical Poets Gulf and the village of Portovenere.
We spent hours exploring the castle grounds, its walls, wide slit trenches and watchtowers. Taking pictures and stopping every five minutes to admire the scenery. Next we roamed the tight streets of the village, enjoyed a delicious meal beside the marina, and then took a boat back to Cinque Terre. What a beautiful day…