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.