See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother,
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou not kiss me?

—from Love’s Philosophy, by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Named after Venus, the goddess of love, Portovenere has wooed many who have fallen under her spell.  A temple to Venus once stood on the tip of the rocky promontory that separates the Golfo dei Poeti from the Cinque Terre.  Those who worshipped the goddess centuries ago ran across the exposed rock to surreptitiously steal kisses and glances from their lovers.  San Pietro, a little church with black and white zebra like strips, now stands on a cliff where the temple once did.

The Gulf of Poets is named after some of the world’s most famous poets—Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, D.H. Lawrence, and Charles Dickens, to name a few. An avid swimmer, Lord Byron regularly swam past sapphire-colored inlets and rocks covered in green moss to visit Shelly on the other side of the bay.  Many poets have found inspiration from the colorful hamlets, the deep blue sea and beautiful gardens.

3 thoughts on “Golfo dei Poeti: Portovenere

  1. Thank you, Martine for the beautiful and inspirational pics! Could you spend a little time talking about the practical things regarding a trip to Italy such as learning the language (how much should one learn before going?), obtaining a visa, exchanging money, handling money while in Italy?

    1. Hi Josephine, I havent had a chance to post on this yet but wanted to respond quickly to a few of your questions regarding travel logistics to Italy. Since I’m a US citizen I didn’t need a visa to Italy which is great. It makes traveling there very easy! The currency in Italy is the euro, used throughout many European countries. We brought some euros with us (got them at the bank). In country we could withdrew money (euros) from an ATM. Using a CD I bought at a bookstore, I learned a little bit of Italian before going to Italy. It was very useful. I find it exciting and very nice to be able to communicate, even if just a little, while in another country. Even though there are many Italians who speak English, I think it’s always much nicer and more respectful to try and communicate in the language of the country your visiting. I think our hosts appreciate our efforts too!!! I hope that helps!

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