Travel

Portovenere and Cinque Terre (World Heritage)

The coast on the Riviera Levante impresses with its scenic beauty with grandiose steep slopes and views. The residents have been farming on man-made terraces there for centuries. The picturesque villages with their colorful house facades, narrow streets and tiny harbors attract thousands of tourists every year. The highlights are Portovenere with its medieval fortress and the approximately 12 km long Cinque Terre coastline. The islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto are also part of the world heritage.

Portovenere and Cinque Terre: facts

Official title: Portovenere and Cinque Terre cultural landscape
Cultural monument: Portovenere with medieval festivals (16th century) and the collegiate church of San Lorenzo; “Five spots”, a stretch of coast of the Riviera di Levante, on terraces with dry stone walls for centuries olive cultivation; Places like Monterosso al Mare with the Loggia del Podesta, Vernazza with the Church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia (1318), Corniglia with the Church of San Pietro and Riomaggiore with the Church of San Giovanni Battista (1340-43), as well as the island of Palmaria, which belongs to Portovenere the Grotta dei Colombi and the islands of Tino with the ruins of the Abbey of San Venerio (11th century) and Tinetto with an early Christian hermitage
Continent: Europe
Country: Italy, Liguria
Location: at the southern end of the Gulf of La Spezia
Appointment: 1997
Meaning: a cultural landscape of high cultural value and scenic beauty

Portovenere and Cinque Terre: history

1056 documentary mention of Monterosso al Mare
1131 Consecration of the Collegiate Church of San Lorenzo (Portovenere)
1182 Vernazza on the side of Genoa in the fight against Pisa
1256-77 Construction of San Pietro (Portovenere)
1276 documentary mention of Riomaggiore
1307 Completion of San Giovanni Battista (Monterosso)
1334 Construction of San Pietro (Corniglia)
1931-38 Restoration of San Lorenzo

Terraced reverie

The Ligurian coast, which stretches from Portovenere to the Cinque Terre, is one of the most impressive coastal landscapes in Italy. Cinque Terre – these are five Ligurian villages with narrow streets that hardly find space between the sea and a lush green terrace landscape. With their colorful fishing boats, their old churches, closely stacked houses, archways and steep stairways, Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare seem like villages from a picture book.

The seemingly randomly jumbled houses with their facades, whose color spectrum ranges from yellow to pink and ocher to blue, exude an aesthetic charm that is difficult to escape. Due to its picturesque harbor and the church of Santa Margherita di Antiochia, Vernazza is considered the most beautiful place in the area. Protected by a round watchtower, the houses push themselves in a small depression down to the sea. The atmospheric highlight of this architectural synthesis of the arts is the Hafenpiazza with its shady arcades, inviting restaurants and fishing boats swaying in the gentle waves: pure Mediterranean postcard idyll!

If you look closely, the Cinque Terre is a man-made landscape: In a centuries-old effort, the steep slopes were transformed into terraced fields and earth was carted in so that olive trees and grapevines can find support. The white wine made from the sun-drenched vines was praised by the poets and humanists Giovanni Boccaccio and Francesco Petrarca as early as the 14th century and exported to England in the late Middle Ages. Nevertheless, the Cinque Terre were always a poor stretch of land: the ports were too small to devote themselves to intensive trade and fishing, and tilling the steep terraced fields was too laborious to make a profit from agriculture. The constant lack of space is still noticeable today: space is so tight.

At the end of the last century, when the villages that had previously only been accessible by ship or mule tracks were connected to the railway network, the area became increasingly depopulated: the farmers were looking for work in the La Spezia arsenal, and more and more fields were lying fallow. According to neovideogames, it was only when the Italian state subsidized viticulture in order to preserve the unique cultural landscape that the interest in arduous agriculture could be rekindled and the decline put to a halt, even if this only succeeds with the greatest physical exertion: around one percent of the The dry stone walls supporting the terraces are to be renewed to prevent the fields from sliding down.

In the east of the Cinque Terre, the port of »Veneris Portus«, founded by the Romans, follows. Due to its exposed location, the place was ideally suited for controlling maritime trade in the Gulf of La Spezia. This was also recognized by the Genoese, who took Portovenere into their possession in the 12th century: for centuries the city served them as an eastern outpost of their power.

The harbor quay is lined with narrow, up to seven-story houses with colorful facades, behind which the houses stretch up to a Genoese fortress. A tower-flanked city gate leads to Via Capellini, which is lined with stately Gothic houses and leads across the old town to the Church of San Pietro, which was built on the foundation walls of a Roman temple of Venus. The church interior is almost square and exudes an urbane atmosphere. From the terrace of the church there is a fantastic view over the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, while the surf beats against the steeply sloping rock and screeching seagulls search for prey.

Portovenere and Cinque Terre