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Is Portovenere Cinque Terre’s best-kept secret?

Nestled amid the small village of Portovenere, where the turquoise waters of the Ligurian Sea caress the craggy coastline of Cinque Terre, sits an architectural gem steeped in history and splendour. Welcome to Grand Hotel Portovenere, a haven of tranquillity and a Dimora Storica – a historical property that once hosted the famed St. Francis Convent – between Liguria and Tuscany.

As the only 5-star establishment in La Spezia and the Cinque Terre area, Grand Hotel Portovenere is the embodiment of elegance and sophistication. Its presence not only exudes majesty, but it also serves as a portal to a real Italian experience, one in which history, culture and natural splendour await discovery.

Emerge from the bustling streets into the hotel’s ancient corridors, where time appears to stand still and the echoes of centuries past resound down every corridor. Originally built in the 1600s, the building has a rich history, having served as a naval hospital in the mid-1800s and the seat of the Municipality of Porto Venere. The ancient complex underwent a remarkable transformation in 1975, emerging as a paragon of luxury hospitality before being extensively renovated in 2014 under new management.

The careful restoration efforts at the Grand Hotel Portovenere have brought fresh life into the architectural splendour of the past. Each room oozes classic beauty, with red-brick vaulted ceilings and a subtle mix of contemporary furnishings, providing a harmonious juxtaposition of past and present. Some rooms have panoramic views and private terraces, offering an ideal vantage point to take in the spectacular vistas of the Gulf of Poets and the beautiful village below. And there are two luxury suites – Suite del Castello and Suite dei Poeti.

The Palmaria Restaurant is located in the heart of the hotel and serves gastronomic delicacies for the discerning palate. Inspired by the rich tapestry of Italian cuisine, the menu honours the region’s greatest produce, creating a symphony of flavours to tantalise the taste buds. Part of the menu is inspired by the “Grand Tour”, or the long journey in continental Europe (particularly in Italy) that was undertaken by the European aristocracy in the 17th century. As a member of the Italian Celiac Association, the restaurant also caters to its clients’ dietary needs, resulting in a fully inclusive eating experience.

Beyond the hotel walls, the adventurous traveller will find a plethora of unique experiences. Embark on the hotel’s very own oyster tour, an unmatched culinary excursion that provides a unique view into the world of aquaculture. Explore the marble quarries, where the history of ancient craftsmen continues, or take a guided hiking excursion to discover the rough beauty of Palmaria Island. Alternatively, savour the silky aromas of locally produced wines in the terraced vineyards of Cinque Terre. Day tours to famous art cities nearby like Florence and Pisa are also easy to arrange.

Whatever you choose to do, each encounter will provide an insight into the rich fabric of local culture and traditions, and leave you with lasting memories to cherish. And even if you don’t venture far, the stunning views of the gulf have long inspired poets, writers and painters alike, holding a real charm at the Grand Hotel Portovenere, as has the harbour which is right in front of the hotel. Portovenere’s ageless appeal and ethereal beauty continue to entice visitors seeking a break from the bustle of metropolitan life, as it has for literary greats such as Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Take in the views, savour the cuisine and give in to the charms of this historic gem — it’s a haven where elegance and history combine to create an unmatched experience.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Grand Hotel Portovenere.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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18 Comments

  1. As soon as I saw that first image, I thought this is a building with a religious heritage. Good to see it being preserved so beautifully.

  2. Portovenere probably is probably a well-kept secret. I’ve had a few holidays in Italy and never heard of the place. It would benefit from some more marketing like this post. It’s really very appealing.

    1. Hello Graham, hopefully on your next Italian trip you will have the pleasure of exploring Portovenere and the Gulf of Poets :)

  3. I’ve not been to Portovenere though it it does seem to have a Portofino look to it, probably without the crowds and extortionate prices.

    1. Hello Diana, Portovenere does indeed have some similarities with Portofino, there is an article on my blog called “Portofino and Portovenere: comparing two glamorous destinations” which compares the destinations :)

  4. I’ve often felt that I was born into the wrong class in the wrong era.

    I can imagine myself as a young lady, being chaperoned, on a Grand Tour of Europe. Very willing to try a menu that encapsulates the artistic elegance of those bygone years.

    1. Sounds lovely Jane :-D

      It’s still possible to do a modern-day Grand Tour of Italy following the ancient itineraries! If you do it, do not miss Portovenere and the Gulf of Poets

  5. Spent the day there 10 years ago. Took the ferry from Monterosso al Mare. Walked up to San Pietro church/Grotto di Lord Byron. Fantastic views, beautiful spot!

  6. One of those suites would be the most romantic of places to celebrate a big wedding anniversary. It’s our 30th next year and Portovenere could be the spot to celebrate.

  7. I’ve got a friend swanning her way round Italy at the moment sending me pictures. And now this! It really is too much. I need an Italian holiday.

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