Porto Venere and La Spezia islands
from Porto Venere to Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto
The kayak tour along the coast of the gulf and circumnavigating the islands
Much of the territory of Porto Venere and the islands of La Spezia, including the sea that surrounds them, is included in the Regional Park that borders the national park of the Cinque Terre. The current structure and its boundaries were defined in 2001 by a regional law. Since 1997 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The paddle from the fishing village of Porto Venere (excellent access to the beach of Olivo to the east of the bay) is a living experience of history and nature.
The strategic position of Porto Venere has led to the construction of imposing defences since the Middle Ages. The castle known as the Doria Castle, which dominates the town on one side and on the other is reflected in the open sea, was built by the Republic of Genoa in the twelfth century, but expanded several times until the current structure dating back to the seventeenth century.
The small bay below the castle and bordered by the rocky outcrop of the church of San Pietro is famous for a sea cavity that is said to have been inspired by the English poet George Byron who in the twenties of the nineteenth century stayed in Italy and visited these places. The Romanesque-Gothic church of San Pietro is located on the rocky tip where in ancient times stood the temple dedicated to the goddess Venus from which derives the name of the village. For its isolated and prominent position on the sea is an excellent vantage point and at the same time an iconic element of the landscape of the Riviera. Porto Venere is certainly one of the most famous and visited villages in Liguria, with an ancient history and recent tourist fame. The navigation below the coast allows you to appreciate all the beauty of the town characterized by a sequence of colorful buildings overlooking the sea. After crossing the cliff below the church you enter the canal (Bocche) that separates the coast from Palmaria island. The islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto represent the southern offshoot of the La Spezia Riviera, giving continuity to the high cliff overlooking the sea on their western side, while they close the Gulf of La Spezia with a low and jagged coast to the east. Subordinated to the military state property for their particular strategic position to protect the military Arsenal of La Spezia, today these islands represent a natural area of particular value that the limited entry has allowed to protect over the years. After crossing the Mouths and reaching the beach in front of Portovenere, you can head towards the eastern side of Palmaria and follow the arch of the wide bay of Terrizzo. You will soon reach the Punta della Scuola, an extreme offshoot towards the Gulf characterized by the rising of the cliff surmounted here by a rich vegetation.
After Punta Marinella you can paddle southwards in the wide bay of Pozzale, where there is a campsite near the shore. The southern tip of the island is characterized by the great excavations of a quarry from which was extracted a precious variety of black marble with golden veins called Portoro or Marble of Portovenere. A stretch of sea of about 400 meters separates Palmaria from the wooded island of Tino characterized by high cliffs to the south and east. On the top, at an altitude of almost 120 meters, stands the military lighthouse. The northern coast is occupied by a series of abandoned military posts that were built from the twenties until the Second World War. In front of the high cliff wall south of Tino emerges from the sea a large rock with a sparse Mediterranean scrub on top: it is the uninhabited island of Tinetto, frequented, however, by a large colony of gulls. Once it housed a monastic hermitage and a small church of which the remains of the apse remain. Resuming the navigation to the north, we return to Tino and then to Palmaria, always skirting a high cliff. Going up the western side of the main island you pass two bays (Cala Piccola and Cala Grande) and a rocky prominence, the Punta del Pittone. Just beyond the point you need to be careful to find a slit in the rock that represents the entrance to a deep sea cavity large enough to allow the entry of small boats. This is the Blue Grotto, so named because of the blue reflections of the water on the white rock walls. The high cliff of Palmaria hides the view of Portovenere up to a few tens of meters from the channel that separates the island from the mainland.