Portovenere and la Via dell'Amore (Path of Love)
Italy may be known as one of the most romantic countries in the world, but the Italian Riviera is one of the most romantic spots in the country. I would like to suggest to you some ideas for where to celebrate Valentine's Day along the breathtaking Italian Riviera in Liguria.
There are countless nooks and crannies along Liguria's rugged coastline, many of them perfect for a lover's escape. However, these are better left to be discovered on your own while you traverse the more well-known areas. Two locations that would be part of an unforgettable Valentine's Day adventure are the charming town of Portovenere and the walking trail that hugs the Ligurian coast known as the Via dell' Amore.
Portovenere is located in the Riviera di Levante portion of Liguria and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town opens onto the Gulf of Poets (Golfo dei Poeti - La Spezia) and in the past it has been celebrated by poets such as Byron, Shelleys, Lawrence and painters, for its natural beauty.
This picturesque bay is fascinating for its brightly multicolored houses and for its alleys, where you can find quaint seafood restaurants, bars and shops. One of the most beautiful tourist attractions of this little town is the striped church of San Pietro, on the promontory of Portovenere. The church protrudes towards the open sea, built in the Genoese-Gothic style above the ruins of a paleochristian church. Another church worth visiting is San Lorenzo, which contains several fine works of art.
A lovely place for a romantic picnic is on the terrace of Portovenere's Doria Castle; it offers a breathtaking view of the harbor. You don't need to pay the entrance charge for the Castle, which means you can spend a few more on a bottle of delicious local wine or after dinner Limoncello.
Just off Portovenere there are the islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto. These islands are wonderful for their natural parks, whale sanctuary and for their beaches and coves. They are perfect for a romantic escape and easily accessible thanks to the ferry service.
La Via dell' Amore (Walk of Love) - Cinque Terre
Following the coast north from Portovenere, you arrive at the famous Cinque Terre. If you include the Cinque Terre (Five Lands - UNESCO World Heritage Site) in your romantic travel plans, I suggest to you the famous footpath between Riomaggiore and Manarola, called "la Via dell' Amore" (Walk of Love), dedicated to lovers.
The Via dell' Amore is one of the most famous trails in Italy and one of the most dramatic. This footpath, cut out of the sheer rock, is just a stone's throw away from the sea and is known for its enchanting views. Sunsets can be especially breathtaking and part of the trail is cut into the rock with windows perfect for stealing a kiss. The trail only takes about 30 minutes and unlike the entire trail that heads to Monterosso, the Via dell' Amore is paved.
The path is actually part of the original foot route between the Cinque Terre before the boring of the railway tunnels between Manarola and Riomaggiore and between Riomaggiore and La Spezia. This small portion of the larger route was improved and baptized "Via dell' Amore" for the romantic nature of its panoramas. The ticket for the trail is 5 euro, which is used for the maintenance of the path: it is a small price to pay for this unique experience, especially if it is shared with a special person.
Unfortunately, as of February 2017 the path is actually closed, due to a landslide that partially obstructed the path in 2012. There's only a small portion, from Manarola train station, that can be covered.
So, everywhere you decide to exchange your promises of eternal love, Happy Valentine's Day.
By Anna Merulla