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Portovenere, the Cinque Terre and the Islands Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto

Porto Venere e Cinque Terre

The Ligurian Riviera between Cinque Terre and Portovenere is a cultural site of outstanding value, which represents the harmonious interaction between man and nature to produce a landscape of exceptional scenic quality that illustrates a traditional way of life that has existed for 1000 years and continues to play an important socio-economic role in community life. The area covers about 15 km along the eastern end of the Ligurian coast, between Levanto and La Spezia. It is very jagged, with a very steep coast, the work of man over the millennia has transformed into an intensively terraced landscape so to wrest from nature a few hectares of land suitable for agriculture, as the cultivation of vines and olive trees. Human communities have adapted to this seemingly rough and inhospitable nature by building compact settlements directly on the rock, with winding roads, which are generally grouped around religious buildings or medieval castles. The five villages of the Cinque Terre are from the late Middle Ages. The cultivation terraces that characterize much of the landscape of the Cinque Terre were built mainly in the 12th century, when the Saracen incursions from the sea had come to an end. The first is the fortified town of Monterosso al Mare. It is a coastal town in a valley, its most important features are the church of San Giovanni, built in 1244, with its bell tower, originally an isolated tower, the ruins of the old castle, and the Capuchin monastery of the 17th century overlooking the town. Vernazza which was founded around the year 1000. It became part of the Republic of Genoa in 1276. The houses are built along the creek Vernazza and up the slopes of the rocky spur that hides the village from those approaching by sea narrow streets that run down the main street, which opens onto a small square overlooking the sea. Here the church of St. Margaret of Antioch is a typical example of Italian Gothic. Corniglia is the only one of the villages built not on the same coast, but on a high promontory. It is dominated by St. Peter’s Church (1334). Then we find Manarola that is a small town founded in the 12th century. The houses are arranged in part on a rocky outcrop that goes down towards the sea and partly along the creek Grappa. The southernmost country is Riomaggiore, another foundation of medieval origin. Its houses are built in the line of the narrow valley of the river. The village is dominated by the church of St. John Baptist (1340), and the castle, whose construction began in 1260. Portovenere is an important cultural center. On the coast, in Varignano, we find the remains of a large Roman villa and a Benedictine monastery with a beautiful early-Romanesque church of San Pietro, on the rocky promontory of Arpaia. In the city below the castle there is a second church, both with Romanesque and Gothic elements, dedicated to San Lorenzo. The city, a Roman foundation Portus Veneris, was occupied by the Genoese in 1113. It is in compact form, culminating in the Doria castle (12th-16th), which dominates. Off the coast of Portovenere are the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, not only notable for their natural beauty, but also for the numerous remains of early monastic institutions.

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