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The village of Portovenere occupies the suggestive promontory of Cape San Pietro, originated from the Mount Muzzerone, and closes westwards the big Gulf of La Spezia. The coast stretches very jagged creating various well defended creek, like the bay of Portovenere itself, and the inlets of Varignano and of the Graces. In front of Cape San Pietro there are Palmaria island and the islands of Tino and Tinetto, originally linked to the mainland. They present a sharper slope with falesias leaning on the sea, while on the opposite side the land is covered with a thick vegetation.
Portovenere is a beautiful and interesting village on the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Cinque Terre and Genoa, and north of Livorno. It is in the Region of Liguria and the Province of La Spezia.
Portovenere has a fascinating history going back to pagan times. The village site used to be a temple to Venus Erycina, from which the name Portovenere is derived. It was a maritime center even then, and has been involved in many conflicts through the ages. The longest was the war between Genoa and Pisa (1119-1290). The castle that overlooks Portovenere from a rocky elevation above the village was an important defense position during that war. Today Portovenere is the gateway to the Cinque Terre. Ferries cruise along the coast each day, offering passengers a chance to have a view of one of the most evocative landscapes of the Mediterranean. A trail to the Cinque Terre also starts here, but the walk is quite long and needs to be broken up into more than one day.
Just off the coast of Porto Venere are the three islands that make up the archipelago of Porto Venere: Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, representing the heart of the Regional Nature Park of Porto Venere, founded on 20th September 2001. The isle of Tino, where interesting ruins from the 11th Century can be seen including an old little abbey dedicated to Saint Venerio, is closed military territory, hence access is limited to one or two days a year when religious celebrations are held on the anniversary of the Saint's death on the 13th of September.
The abbey was constructed in the 11th Century on top of the remnants of a 7th Centruy chapel on the site where the body of the saint, who was born on Palmaria, but died a hermit on Tino, was found. Tinetto is a rock 18 metres high, and practically without vegetation. It has some ancient ruins, which testify to the presence of religious communities in this area. There are two distinct buildings: on the western side of the island was a small 6th Century oratory with an apse pointing eastwards from where a more complex building arose. The latter, which consisted of a church with two naves and cells for monks, shows different phases of construction up to the end of the 11th Century when it was destroyed by Saracen raids.
More at: www.portovenere.com
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