Monday, June 4, 2012

Visit the Gulf of Poets

When one thinks of the region of Liguria, one often conjures up images of the historical city of Genoa and the stunning Cinque Terre. However, very close to the Cinque Terre lies ‘the Gulf of Poets’, a picturesque area which is often overlooked by its more well-known neighbor, but is most definitely worth visiting.

The Gulf of Poets, which is also known as the Gulf of La Spezia, takes its name from the fact that it has inspired many famous poets over the years. The name was triggered by Sam Benelli in 1919, when he himself was working on his poetry. Among the other poets include Dante, who boasted about the beauty of the region. English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley had set up home in San Terenzo and tragically drowned when he encountered a storm whilst out at sea. Poets were not the only ones who found creativity in this region, as Italian artist Paolo Mantegazza and Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin were said to have enjoyed spending time in the Gulf of Poets.

For a quiet and relaxing time, the Gulf is filled with small and pretty villages which will give a taste of the real Italy. One can hike south from San Terenzo to small fishing villages on the rugged coast like Montemarcello, Tellaro, and Fiascherino. It goes without saying that the seafood in these villages, which will be amazingly fresh, is an absolute must!

 If you are looking for a bit more action, the three biggest towns to visit in the region include Lerici, Porto Venere and La Spezia. Lerici boasts medieval originals with a 12th Century castle, a fascinating Jewish quarter as well as houses built in a compact manner through small and cute alleyways and streets.
Porto Venere was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, an action which emphasizes how important it was to protect its beauty. Byron’s cave is a marvelous marine sea cave named after another English poet who patronized the area, George Gordon Byron, who was known to swim in this rocky area. Porto Venere also offers a habour with colourful houses, shops and seafood restaurants galore (it really is a must in Liguria!). 

La Spezia is similar to Porto Venere with its pretty and bright buildings, but offers many museums and churches to sample a bit of culture on your trip. After dusk there are also a few clubs which come highly recommended- those looking for an Italian clubbing experience should try out Map Bar, which is popular with the local young Italians. Those looking for a more sophisticated evening ought to visit wine bar Enoteca Eliseo, which boasts candlelit dinners and classical music to suit a romantic evening.

There is an abundance of activities in the Gulf of Poets as well as the whole region. It’s often best to take a vacation rental property in Liguria for a week (or even two) to get a real feel of the area and soak up all the culture, the beaches, the mountains, and most importantly, the food!


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