I’m loving Italy. One of the reasons my posts are so far between is that I’m having a forced break from all things work and internet. My phone doesn’t work here, but it should. My mobile internet card dosen’t work, but it should. The internet connections at the places we have stayed at mysteriously “don’t work. We are waiting for the technicians”. In short, there seems to be a consipiracy to keep me disconnected. On one hand it has been lovely. I have things I should be doing but I can’t. I’m learning to live with it 🙂
Right now, I’m sitting outside on a table overlooking the harbour at Porto Venere. Nearby is the bar Doria where we had drinks our first night. Wine, mujito and a plate of munchies. Perfect.
The town really doesn’t start moving until 10. The tourists start piling in then from La Spezia which is a 1/2 hour bus ride away along a very narrow winding road. I have a great admiration for the bus drivers here. Both their skill and patience as they manouvre their way past the parked cars, stationary vehicles with drivers chatting to a friend by the side of the road and workmen repairing something other than the internet connections.
Porto Venere awakening
If you like italian seafood, old-world charm, sea air and boats……go away! This place is mine!
Because Porto Venere doesn’t have a train station, everything comes in by truck or boat. At the small dock, local taxi boats ferry everything around. If they can’t carry it, a helicopter is available that can drop your precious new piece of furniture to you (no kidding, we saw it).
Against this back drop of tiny boats and fishing boats are the big motor yachts. Like the Jackie One from London. You can look her up on the web according to her boarding mat on the dock. Next to her was bigger yacht, Goneedays and then an even larger one still. However, it was Club Med who one the pissing contest with their cruise ship moored just off the breakwater. Not only is she a powered ship, but four very large masts carry enough sail to help propel her when the wind is blowing the right way.
Jackie One and Goneedays duking it out for big boat status
Porto Venere seems to have been around since the year dot. The romans were here and like the place so much, the built a temple on the point. In 1113 AD, ancient rome was out of favour so they did a bit of a reno and knocked it down. Up went the black and white marbled church known as St Peters. All of this was built into a really serious fortification known as Duamo. This protected the point from the land. The towns folk helped too. They built their houses in towers that all linked together to form and impenatrable wall. Whilst the house paint colours might have changed a bit, essentially the town looks the same as it did back in medieval times. Even Napoleon had a crack at doing some reno’s on the fort. The region was vital to protecting shipping that even today, in nearby Le Grazie and Le Spezia, there are significant naval bases.
Looking down the town walls to our hotel and the main marina
St Pauls Church. Totally functional and built on the site of and old roman temple.
As I write this, it is our last day in Porto Venere. Yesterday we walked the cinque e terra (at last part of it) and despite all of the wrap for the 5 towns, Porto Venere has everything they have plus more. It has been lovely today just pottering around, watching the ebb and flow of the town. I spoke (signed mostly) with a local potter who has a ‘laboratorie’ about his work that he sells under the name of Bagetto. The region is proud of it’s produce and wines. Having sampled both, it is easy to see why. One of the tiny fishing boats was in port cleaning their catch. The local ristoronte’s were dropping by to pick up supplies for tonights dinner. Here the restaurants offer you a choice of fresh or frozen seaford. They have the courtesy to tell you and charge you accordingly. Fresh only adds a couple of euro to your typical dish. The average seaford dish was around 10 euro.
Tonight we dined al fresco and shared grilled scampi and prawns, stuffed mussels, tomatoe salad and 1/2 carafe of house white. The house wines have been perfectly acceptable. I’m going to miss Porto Venere.
Here’s to Porto Venere!