Porto Venere Regional Nature Park offers a unique and breathtaking landscape: rugged cliffs, lush Mediterranean vegetation, varied animal life, mysterious grottos and – of course – the crystal-clear sea that embraces the Gulf of La Spezia (or Gulf of Poets), the Marine Protection Area and the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto.
Let’s explore what eco-tourists can enjoy when visiting Porto Venere’s nature reserve, which lies in the territory classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The typical Mediterranean vegetation covers the park, alternating the scrubland with holm oak and Aleppo pine forests, as well as maritime pines and oak trees like Cerro and Roverella.
When exploring the nature trails in the park, you will come across the Porto Venere Cornflower (Fiordaliso), which deserves a special mention: in fact, this small perennial plant is native to the promontory and the islands of Palmaria and Tino. Part of the Composite family, this shrub features bright purple blooms that cling to the rocky cliffs.
Europe’s smallest gecko, the Tarantolino, lives in the Nature Park of Porto Venere! Measuring about 8 cm (tail included), this strictly nocturnal reptile is rare and on its way to becoming an endangered species; for this reason it has been included in the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Other animals that you will find in the park include the Corbezzolo and Macaone butterflies, the Geotritone and Muraiola lizards, the Orecchione bat, the hedgehog, the red squirrel, the badger, the red fox, the Raganella frog and the Biacco snake.
Karstification is a phenomenon that is quite evident throughout the Park and in particular on Palmaria Island, characterized by a calcareous substrate rich in caves, narrow wells and deep chimneys, and by surface Karst-related features such as swallow-holes and ploughed field formations.
An important product of this process is the Portoro Stone (also known as Porto Venere Marble), a precious black limestone with golden streaks, largely extracted in the 1800s and 1900s and exported worldwide.
Monte Muzzerone offers a great setting for those of you who love rock climbing. Thousands of climbers from all over the world put themselves to the test on these dramatic, rocky cliffs that offer breathtaking sea views and a challenging but rewarding eco-sport experience.
Initially, the Muzzerone was used by the Navy for military training purposes in the Seventies. Later on, mountaineers started exploring the trails and creating new climbing itineraries.
This park is a hiking and trekking paradise! Here are some trails recommended by the rangers at the Nature Park itself:
- Track N.1 (from Porto Venere to Campiglia): 2-hour duration; medium difficulty; view the route here
- Circular Route around Palmaria Island: duration of 3h30m; medium difficulty; view the route here
- Woodland Track (From Fezzano to Track N.1): duration of 1h30m; easy difficulty; view the route here
- Martina Track (From Le Grazie to Porto Venere): duration of 1h30m; easy-medium difficulty; view the route here
Stay tuned on Discover Porto Venere Blog for more articles on eco-tourism in the surroundings:
soon we will be exploring the Protected Marine Area of the Regional Natural Park of Porto Venere; as well as the Cinque Terre National Park and the Cinque Terre Marine Protected Area.