They are colourful and picturesque, splendid and full of charm, but still little-known: The Italian villages perched on the sea, in natural settings of great beauty, seem to invite peaceful walks and explorations. During the winter these places still offer an incredible atmosphere and fascinating perspectives.
According to what is said, the name derives from a temple dedicated to the goddess Venus Ericina, which was located exactly in the place where the church of San Pietro stands today. The goddess, according to tradition, was born from the foam of the sea right under the promontory.
With its picturesque harbor and the enchanting church of San Pietro perched on the rocks, Portovenere closes one end of the Gulf of Poets, which La Spezia overlooks. In front of San Pietro there is the Palmaria island and, not far away, the islet of Tino.
Portovenere is famous for its beauties: the old castle, the churches, and the picturesque islands with their caves. Here you will find both interesting excursions and places to rest. Together with Cinque Terre, the territory of Portovenere has been included among the world heritage sites by UNESCO.
Crossing the threshold you will be immersed in an atmosphere of other times and lose yourself in the narrow streets, alleys, and colors that will reach you up to the incredible Porto Venere Castle. Porto Venere Castle stands on a rocky hill and was built by the Genoese around 1500. The fortress is located on a rock overlooking the village, it is one of the most majestic military buildings of the Republic of Genoa.
Do not miss the incredible Church of San Pietro with its towers and ancient walls, which was built in 1198.
Where to sleep: Hotel della Baia, Torre Porto Venere, Relais Santa Caterina
Where to eat: Osteria del Carugio, La Bitta, La Chiglia
More info at: www.portovenere.com
A wonder of northern Italy is Cividale, in Friuli Venezia Giulia. According to ancient historical sources, this village was founded by Julius Caesar. A magical place, full of legends, such as the one linked to the Devil’s Bridge, whose construction had to go through the sacrifice of the first passer-by.
The town preserves numerous Lombard testimonies, among all the Tempietto, an extraordinary early medieval architecture, but also the Christian Museum of the Cathedral with the altar built by Duke Ratchis, and the baptistery of the patriarch Callisto. The National Archaeological Museum exhibits the grave goods of the Lombard necropolis of Cividale. UNESCO in 2011 recognized Cividale as part of the Lombard path: an itinerary that allows discovering wonderful treasures of Italy, starting right from Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Where to sleep: L’Angolo di Filippo, Casa in piazza, Il Rifugio del Monaco
Where to eat: Al Monastero, Antico Leon d’oro, Trattoria alla Frasca
More info at: www.cividale.com
It is one of the most beautiful Italian villages, also called “the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian”/
It is located in the province of Latina, in Lazio, and it is among the most beautiful beaches on the coast. The town perched on the spit of land of Monte S.Magno. Its name derives from the natural speluncae caves that overlook the coast. An incredible natural stage, with narrow alleys that offer incredible glimpses of the sea and sky.
In Sperlonga, do not miss the beach of 300 steps, halfway between Formia and Gaeta, as well as the Villa and the Grotta of Tiberio. Directly overlooking the sea, they are very easy to reach: just follow the signs on the road that connects Sperlonga to Gaeta for about a kilometer. The Grotta di Tiberio is a large natural rocky cavity opened to the Tyrrhenian Sea, near the Grotta, there is also a small, extremely fascinating stretch of beach. In addition to the excavations of the Villa, inside the site, it is possible to visit the local archaeological museum, which houses the statuary groups that decorated the city.
Where to sleep: Moresco Park Hotel, Hotel Corallo, Hotel La Conchiglia
Where to eat: Gli Archi, A Gambe di Gatto, Il Porticciolo
More info at: www.sperlongaturismo.it
This spectacular village in the province of Bari, in Puglia, rises on a rocky spur overlooking the Adriatic Sea. It is characterized by breathtaking views, a delightful historic center made up of ancient churches and white streets. Tropea is also known for its beaches of crystal clear waters, surrounded by cliffs.
Here you will find the Grotta Palazzese, the undisputed queen of the sea caves throughout the region. The ancient path of Lama Monachile that through many steps carved into the rock and dense vegetation leads to a beach of white pebbles and rocky walls. While, the old town is composed of a maze of narrow streets, alleys, and lively squares with breathtaking views.
A few kilometers from Polignano rises the Abbey of San Vito, one of the things to absolutely see if you are in the area. The Abbey was originally annexed to a convent that has now become a private home.
The streets and coves of Sperlonga, its proximity to Bari, and many other interesting sites such as Alberobello, make Polignano a destination on your wish list in any season of the year.
Where to sleep: Itaca Home to Explorers, Acquamarea, Home Village B&B
Where to eat: Grotta Palazzese, Donna Gina, Da Tuccino
More info at: www.polignanoamare.com
This splendid town is located in the province of Vibo Valentia, along the coast of the Gods, also known as the Costa Bella because of its suggestive views and proximity to the splendid Aeolian Islands. Overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, Tropea is one of the most enchanting places on the Calabrian coast.
With its houses on the cliffs, it is among the most beautiful villages in Italy. The little town has a curious morphology as it is divided into two parts: the upper one, where almost all the inhabitants live, and the lower part, called Marina, where the port and the sea are located.
Also worth seeing are the many palaces of the 17th and 18th centuries that are located in the center of Tropea, between the narrow and graceful Via Boiano and Largo Galluppi overlooked by Baroque buildings.
Tropea hosts the Church of San Demetrio with a splendid 14th-century chapel as well as the church of Santa Maria dell’Isola, from which, through very narrow alleys and stairways you reach the beach. After a nice refreshing bath, try one of the gastronomic delights of the place, such as the “surici fritti” or the red onion of Tropea, also honored by a famous summer festival.
Its characteristic historical center, its splendid beaches, and cuisine rich in typical products, create a unique atmosphere, a place that will immediately conquer you.
Where to sleep: B&B Residenza Cardinale, Residenza RoMa Tropea, Casolare al Porto
Where to eat: Lapprodo, Pimm’s, Locanda Toscano
More info at: www.comune.tropea.vv.it