Portovenere Guided Walking Tour
- Doria Castle: This imposing grey citadel was built by one of Genoa's wealthiest families and teeters over the water above the ruins of Byron's Grotto.
- St. Laurence: Built on an ancient temple dedicated to the god Jupiter, this unassuming church offers beautiful views of the Italian Riviera and the Ligurian Sea.
- St. Peter: This elegant church with stripes of black and grey stone inside is built over a temple to Venus, giving the town its name: "Port of Venus."
About This Portovenere Tour
The hypnotic beauty of Portovenere has drawn artists, poets, and authors for centuries. But none has been more revered and reviled than the notoriously flamboyant Lord Byron. Born with a club foot, his aristocratic excesses included childhood "tricks" with his nanny, massive debts, numerous bisexual affairs, a rumored tryst with his half-sister, and involvement in Greek and Italian revolutions. Excessive or not, Lord Byron had passion.
He went there in 1822 with his Italian countess wife, a marriage that lasted only a few years. He spent most of his days sleeping and his nights cavorting – rarely with his wife –but did find time to launch a radical journal with fellow poet Percy Shelley. (Wife Mary had recently published Frankenstein.)
An avid swimmer but bad decision-maker, he jumped into the Gulf of La Spezia one day at the base of the Church of St. Peter and swam 4.6 miles to reach his faithful friend's home. He managed to make it ashore, and the feat – and his fondness for Portovenere – are immortalized on a plaque at Byron's Grotto, below Doria Castle.
The gulf was not as kind to his friend – Shelley drowned shortly after Byron's legendary swim when his boat capsized in a storm.
"Bay" rhymes better
In a confusing clash of geographical certitude and poetic license, the body of water in which Byron swam and Shelley drowned is known as the Bay of Poets, the Gulf of Poets, the Gulf of La Spezia, and the Bay of Portovenere. Whatever it's called, the gulf/bay has been a creative inspiration for Shelley, Byron, and countless others. Swimmers from all over the world went there every August to reenact Byron's 1822 crossing.
Please look for our GoBe Representative with the displayed logo sign at the port of Portovenere tender pier arrival and departure area.
The Carrugio, main street of Portovenere, is very steep. Choose your footwear wisely. If you wish to enter the Castle Doria, an entrance fee of 5 euro is required and not included in the price of the tour. Shop for local goods such as olive oil, wine, and pesto. They make excellent gifts and souvenirs,
Plan to walk for over a mile, up and down steep inclines and cobbled surfaces. If your mobility is limited or you have knee problems, you will struggle to keep up with the group, maintain the pace, and enjoy yourself. Tour is not wheelchair accessible.
Walking Tour, Cultural, Family Friendly, Food & Wine
Two Glasses of Wine
English, French, Spanish, Italian
Tour Participation Requirements
This experience is rated strenuous. Travelers must consider their physical fitness level and medical history when determining whether this tour is appropriate. Travelers with pre-existing neck, back, knee and/or shoulder injuries, cardiac conditions, asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, other heart or respiratory conditions or any other medical condition must take particular caution when selecting a tour categorized as "strenuous". If you have concerns, you must consult with your personal physician before engaging in any activity that may be too strenuous for you.
Suitable for all ages. Under 18 years old? Sorry you won't be able to sample wine on this tour. Bring photo ID as proof of age if asked.
Special Medical Restriction
If you have knee or hip problems, this tour may not be suitable for you, due to the strenuous nature of the walking required.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.
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