Common belief has it that in the low season – even in a spring month like March – there are no events and there is little to do in some touristic destinations like the Italian Riviera. Although the calendar of activities is not as busy as in the peak season in late spring and summer, you will be surprised at the variety of things to see and do in March.
If you book a break of 3 or more days and rent a car, you can explore a local destination and its surroundings at your own pace and without the crowds that gather in the following months. And don’t forget that hotel rates are cheaper too!
Let’s imagine that you book your spring vacation in Portovenere. We have selected some events that you can enjoy in the Gulf of Poets, as well as in the surroundings of the Italian Riviera – such as Genoa (also in Liguria), Parma (inland in Emilia Romagna), and in Tuscany’s Lucca, Pisa and Viareggio.
Music, Art and Paleontology in Genoa
Genoa is the capital of Liguria, and is 110 km away from Portovenere (about 1hour 40minutes drive away). Along the drive, you can also stop for sightseeing in Sestri Levante, Rapallo and Camogli.
“Sounds, Words, Rhythms from the World” is a series of free concerts that take place at Villa Bombrini in Genoa. Two great icons of Italian jazz – Riccardo Zegna (piano) and Giampaolo Casati (trumpet) – will perform on 18 March. Their swing will be followed on 25 March by a more experimental and avant-garde kind of music by composer and guitar player Luca Falomi, along with musicians Daniele Pinceti (bass guitar), Daniela Piras (wind instruments) and Loris Lombardo (percussions). All concerts start at 9pm, and the entrance is free. Address: Villa Bombrini, Via L.A. Muratori, 5 Genova Cornigliano (large free parking available).
The beautiful Palazzo Ducale hosts an exhibition about Amedeo Modigliani, one of the greatest artists of the XX century. The show features about thirty works, including studies, drawings, watercolors and tempera paintings from important museums and prestigious collections. The exhibition can be viewed daily from 16 March to 16 July 2017, from 9:30am to 7:30pm. Find ticket prices and more information the website of Palazzo Ducale.
If you are traveling with children, they will be delighted to visit the Dinosaur Exhibition in Genoa’s Natural History Museum. The exhibition reproduces in real size the amazing creatures that dominated Earth millions of years ago. It can be viewed from Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm until 25 June 2017 (it was inaugurated in November 2016). For more information please visit Museo di Storia Naturale.
Food & Handcrafts in Parma
Parma is 130 km away from Portovenere. If you rent a car, it should take you about 1hour 45 minutes to reach this beautiful town in the region of Emilia Romagna. It is famous for its ham and cheese.
Since the region is one of the foodie paradises in Italy, you should not miss the opportunity to visit the Musei del Cibo (Food Museums) in Parma: Museo del Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan), Museo del Prosciutto di Parma (ham), Museo del Pomodoro (tomato), Il Museo del Salame di Felino (salami), Museo del Vino (wine) and Museo della Pasta (easy one!). You can learn about the uses, history and significance of delicious products at local level, and the impact of the Made in Italy at international level.
The museums organize some workshops, especially for children. For example, on 19 March kids between 7 and 12 can join a treasure hunt to find the perfect recipe in the Pasta Museum (between 3:30pm and 5:30pm), while on 26 March they will explore the magical world of the extra virgin olive oil. For more information and calendar of events, please visit the website of the Museums of Food.
Every Friday, from 9am to 7pm, Piazza Ghiaia hosts the Market of Artistic and Creative Crafts (Fiera settimanale dell’artigianato artistico e creativo). It’s a wonderful and rich space where you can find art crafts made with wood, leather, pottery, glass, metals, as well as Made-in-Italy bijoux, food and wine.
Botany, Motors and Antiques in Tuscany: Lucca, Pisa and Viareggio
The beautiful medieval town of Lucca is famous for its intact Renaissance-era city walls. It is located 90km away from Portovenere (about 1hour 30minutes away by car).
Every year, visitors can admire the largest exhibition dedicated to camellias in Italy: “Ancient Camellias Festival in Lucca”. It takes place in the hamlet of Pieve and San Andrea di Compito (municipality of Capannori in Lucca) in the days 18, 19, 25 and 26 March 2017. Here you can admire beautiful gardens and parks – including the “Camelietum”, a camellia sanctuary featuring over 600 varieties. Inside Lucca itself, at Villa Nardi you will be impressed by some of the largest camellias found today in Italy. For more information visit Antiche Camelie della Lucchesia.
The iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa is also only 90 km away from Portovenere. Apart from visiting the delightful historic center, until 18 April 2017 you can attend 2 exhibitions called “Let’s all ride motorbikes! The myth of speed in one-hundred years of art” and “Futurism, speed and photography”. They take place in the Piaggio Museum and in Palazzo Pretorio, both in Pontedera near Pisa. Both exhibitions are entirely dedicated to the myth of speed and to its effect on figurative arts, ideals of life, and social traditions of Italian people from the end of the nineteenth century to the years of the economic boom. For more information on opening times and admission tickets, visit Museo Piaggio.
The famous seaside resort of Viareggio is 75 km away from Portovenere (less than 90 minutes’ drive away), and it is home to the Carnival of Viareggio dating back to 1873.
Every fourth Saturday and Sunday of the month, from 9am to 8pm, Viareggio hosts “Tarlo al Mare” (literally “Woodworm at Sea”), a historic antiques market where you can find period furniture, vintage objects, and collectibles.
Culture, Sailing and Art in the Gulf of Poets
The location where you can base your 2017 March vacation, the Gulf of Poets, also hosts a number of events. Examples are the Melges Sailing Series from 31 March to 2 April in Portovenere; music concerts in the Civic Theater of La Spezia; an exhibition with “Leonardo da Vinci’s Machines” in Sarzana from 18 March 2017. You can see the detail of all these events in the dedicated article: Spring 2017 in the Gulf of Poets: Culture, Sailing and Art.
Apart from attending these events, you can enjoy sightseeing in Portovenere (10 Things to do in Portovenere) and in the Cinque Terre (48 hours in Portovenere & the Cinque Terre); eco-tourism in the Porto Venere Regional Nature Park and in the Cinque Terre National Park.
Where to Stay: Special Re-Open Rate at Grand Hotel Portovenere
Grand Hotel Portovenere celebrates the arrival of spring by reopening on 16 March 2017. This boutique hotel was included in the “Best Hotel Picks” by travel expert Richard Bangs (Huffington Post) and stands firmly at the top spot in Tripadvisor’s list of best-rated hotels in Portovenere, praised for its services, staff and strategic location between the Gulf of Poets, Cinque Terre, Tuscany and Emilia Romagna.
The hotel will surprise its guests with a special art installation in its hall, conceived by an Italian artist. Keep posted on Discover Portovenere to learn about the unveiling and for an interview with the creative artist behind the exhibition!
Or plan your spring visit: the hotel offers the “Re-Opening Special Rate“, which includes a discount on the room price and also 20% off lunch or dinner at Palmaria Restaurant. Book Now on Grand Hotel’s website: direct bookings also get free parking right in the heart of Portovenere!