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The carruggio, a narrow winding street in Porto Venere, Riviera De Levante, Italy

Riviera di Levante Italy ➝ photos

Photo ➝ The carruggio, a narrow winding street in Porto Venere, Riviera De Levante, Italy

The Carruggio, a typical narrow winding streets in Porto Venere Village. Porto Venere, Riviera De Levante, Ligurian Riviera or Italian Riviera, La Spezia Province, Italy.

Porto Venere or Portovenere is a town and municipality located on Italy’s Ligurian Coast in La Spezia province. In 1997 Porto Venere and the five villages of Cinque Terre (Five Earths) were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Porto Venere or Portovenere is located on the Ligurian Riviera or Italian Riviera, a coastal area of western Italy located between the Ligurian Sea, the Maritime Alps and the Apennines mountains. It extends from the French border and French Riviera or Côte d'Azur near Ventimiglia all the way to Capo Corvo (a.k.a Punta Bianca) that designates the eastern end of the Gulf of La Spezia. The Italian Riviera includes nearly all the coastline of Liguria.

Portovenere or Porto Venere UNESCO World Heritage Site. Riviera Di Levante, Ligurian Riviera, Liguria Region, La Spezia Province, Italy.

From UNESCO World Heritage Centre

"Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the Islands (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto)

The Ligurian coast between Cinque Terre and Portovenere is a cultural landscape of great scenic and cultural value. The layout and disposition of the small towns and the shaping of the surrounding landscape, overcoming the disadvantages of a steep, uneven terrain, encapsulate the continuous history of human settlement in this region over the past millennium.

Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Stretching 15 km along the eastern Ligurian coast between Levanto and La Spezia, the jagged, steep coastal landscape has over centuries been intensively developed with stone walled terraces for the growing of vines and olive trees. The area was almost inaccessible, except by sea, until the Genoa-La Spezia railway was built in the 1870s.

The property, extending from the Punta Mesco in the west and to the Punta Persico in the east, encompasses the territory of Porto Venere, the three islands of its archipelago (Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto), and the Cinque Terre, the collective name of the five villages of Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore.

Some of the cultivation terraces extend to as much as 2 km in length. Terraces extended along the steep slopes from a few meters above sea level to up 400 m a.s.l., the highest altitude suitable for cultivation. They were mostly built in the 12th century, when Saracen raids from the sea had come to an end. The drystone walls are most often carefully constructed of sandstone rough blocks, bonded together with pebbles removed from the ground.

The maintenance of the terraces and the cultivation of vines and olive trees on the terraces reflect a communal approach to farming and the collaboration and cooperation of the communities without which such cultivation would not have been possible.

The natural garrigue and maquis vegetation survives intact in the higher parts of the steep ridge. The nature of the terrain and the vegetation provides food and shelter for a wide range of insect and animal species.

The local communities have adapted themselves to this seemingly rough and inhospitable environment by living in compact settlements on the coast or in small hamlets on the hillsides (e.g. Volastra, Groppo, Drignana, San Bernardino or Campiglia), erected directly on the rock with winding streets. The general use of natural stone for roofing gives these settlements a characteristic appearance. They are generally grouped around religious buildings or medieval castles. The terraces are also dotted by innumerable tiny stone huts isolated or grouped together (e.g. at Fossola, Tramonti, Monestiroli or Schiara) used for temporary shelter during the harvest.

The main five villages of Cinque Terre date back to the later Middle Ages. Starting from the north-west, the first is the fortified centre of Monterosso al Mare, that is a coastal town grown along two short valleys and facing one of the few beaches that exist in the area. Vernazza has developed along the Vernazzola water-stream on the slopes of the rocky spur protecting the village from the sea. Corniglia is the only village which has not been built on the coast itself but on a high promontory projecting to the sea. Manarola is a small hamlet in which the houses are ranged in part on a rocky spur running down towards the sea and partly along the Grappa stream. The most eastern – southerly village is Riomaggiore; its houses line the narrow valley of the Rio Maggiore water-stream, today covered to be used as main street.

Portovenere was an important commercial and cultural centre dating back to the Roman period, from which archaeological remains survive in its vicinity. It is compact in form, the houses aligned along the coastline culminating in the Doria Castle, which dominates the settlement and is a historical palimpsest, with many traces of its medieval predecessor.

Off the coast at Portovenere, the three islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto, noteworthy not only for their natural beauty but also for the many remains of early monastic establishments that they contain.

The rugged and visually dramatic coastal landscape, with its tall compact settlements and visually spectacular terraces that were shaped over almost a millennium, is an exceptional testimony to the way traditional communities interacted and still interact with their difficult and isolated environment to produce a sustainable livelihood" (UNESCO).

Location/Subject: Riviera di Levante Italy
City/Town: Portovenere
State/Province: La Spezia
Country: Italy
World Region: Europe
Sublocation: Liguria
See more ➝ Riviera di Levante Italy.
See photos of Portovenere Italy ➝ Portovenere, Italy
Copyright: ©Robert Leon /
Image ID: 25tlig100

Categories➝ Europe Travel PhotosGalleryItaly Travel PhotosRiviera Di Levante Italy Travel PhotosTravel Documentary Photography

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