Are you thinking about where to go for your next spring break? Among its many attractions, the Italian region of Liguria treasures an area that you cannot miss right next to the world-famous Cinque Terre and Tuscany. The name of this destination itself will intrigue you…
The Gulf of Poets, formally known as Gulf of La Spezia, is a deep and wide bay on the eastern tip of Liguria’s coast. This beautiful gulf stretches between the sea villages of Portovenere and Lerici. The larger town of La Spezia lies in the middle of the bay, and it is the provincial capital of this part of Liguria.
3 reasons why should you choose the Gulf of Poets
The first and most evident reason is that the dramatic scenery here is a feast for your eyes and soul. The name itself stems from the inspiration that the area has had on poets and artists who have been struck by its beauty. Among them: writers David Herbert Lawrence and Percy Bysshe Shelley, writer and painter George Sand, and poet Lord Byron.
Even the early-Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli created one of his most iconic masterpieces, the Birth of Venus, after visiting the local village of Fezzano and meeting Simonetta Vespucci whom he chose to represent the goddess in the painting. According to some art experts, the bays he depicted on the right-hand side actually represent the Gulf of La Spezia with the promontories of Fezzano, Pezzino, Varignano and even Palmaria Island.
Secondly, great food and wine! Spring is the season in which your body and mind want to re-energize and lighten up after the winter’s hibernation: a healthy Mediterranean diet with fresh local fish, vegetables and fruit, homemade pasta and genuine Ligurian recipes, is just what you need to make the most out of your spring vacation.
Thirdly, the Gulf of Poets offers you a strategic location that allows you to easily move around and visit the mesmerizing territory by foot, boat, car and/or train. If, for example, you choose a central location such as Portovenere for your hotel, you can reach the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto in 5 minutes; Lerici, La Spezia, Riomaggiore and Manarola within 30 minutes; Corniglia, Vernazza, Monterosso and Sarzana within 50 minutes; while Portofino and Versilia are 2 hours away. For more on each mentioned town, and for even more surrounding attractions, visit “Portovenere: The Destination”.
What to do during spring?
Here are some ideas for activities that you can enjoy in and around the Gulf of Poets in the lovely springtime:
- Broaden your historic and cultural knowledge by visiting local castles, museums, artisan workshops and churches
- Trekking and cycling in the pristine Porto Venere Regional Natural Park
- Embark on a mini cruise along the coast: whether you choose a small fisherman’s boat or a luxury speed vessel, this is the best way to explore the area from the Cinque Terre to every corner of the Gulf of La Spezia
- Diving in the protected marine area of Portovenere
- Gourmet initiatives such as wine tasting and cooking lessons
- Visit vineyards and organic farms on the typically terraced coast
- Enjoy the panoramic views and unforgettable sunsets while sipping a custom-designed cocktail by Head Barman at Venus Bar, or while enjoying regional dishes at Palmaria Restaurant
- Shopping, shopping, shopping in the fancy streets of Portofino and Versilia
- Spa, Wellbeing and Fitness in places like Portovenere Wellness Center
- Think outside the box: visit Carrara and venture into the marble caves that have provided the foundation for masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s David, or explore the Naval Museum at La Spezia to learn about the Arsenal of the Italian Navy, or book an exclusive boat tour that includes a visit in the oyster farms of la Spezia – complete with on-board tastings of local wines and products.
Grand Hotel Portovenere is located on the most panoramic point of Portovenere, directly overlooking the sea and Palmaria Island. In the XVII century, the building was home to a Franciscan monastery or ‘convento’ and was transformed into a hotel in 1970. After careful renovations with special attention to maintaining the original architectural features, revisiting them in a modern way to provide guests with maximum comfort, Grand Hotel Portovenere reopened its doors in 2014 with its new design and understated elegance.
Photo credit: Large image above from quelliconlavaligia.com