The Gulf of the Poets
The La Spezia Bay is known as the Gulf of Poets, because many poets have praised its beauty throughout time. Since Ancient Roman times, when La Spezia didn't exist as a city and the Emperor would give his most valuable and noble friends pieces of land to relax in a at the time pristine land. The Poet Persio lived here, possibly in one of the many Roman Villas that still can be seen in the area. But the naturally evocative power of the steep reef, the quiet asperity of people and land, the restlessness of the sea have been inspiring especially for romantic poets, who wanted to feel the power of nature above men : George Sand so described the sea she viewed from her window:
The Cinque Terre area is not only made of the coast, unique and unrepeatable, and of five villages perched on the mountains and overlooking the sea. The area is now famous throughout the world and characterized by an increasingly important flow of tourists.
The medieval villages take their origin in the hinterland and its peasant culture, that of the Vara River Valley, and even further up to the culture of the Lunigiana. It is the historical area that in most ancient times was dominated by the Ligurian and Apuan Celts. The most typical features of the five villages can be found throughout the marine area, extending to the Gulf of La Spezia, (the Gulf of the Poets), with the enchanting Lerici and Portovenere, while its small archipelago hides the surprise of pristine and fierce nature and ancient history.
" ... The sea is a painting that changes in color and mood every minute, day and night. There are profundities here filled with a clangor whose dreadful variety is hard to imagine; all the cries of despair, all the curses of hell intermingle here, and under my little window I hear in the night voices from the abyss that sometimes roar in a nameless bacchanalia, at others, savage hymns fearsome even in the extent of the consolation they bring ... "
The suggestive Portovenere cave traditionally owes its name from Lord Byron, who spent some periods of his life in the Gulf as a sea lover and, apparently, an expert swimmer.
Eugenio Montale – who owned a beautiful villa in Monterosso in which he wrote the famous poem Ossi di Seppia is one of the most important poets who lived in the area, and who dedicated a truly powerful verses to Portovenere:
There – comes Triton
from the waves that lap
the threshold of a Christian
temple, and every near hour
is ancient. Every doubt
takes you by hand
as if by a young girl friend.
There – no one’s eyes
nor ears are bent on self.
Here – you are at the origins
and deciding is foolish:
re-begin later to assume a nature.
Percy Bysshe Shelley lost his life at sea while sailing off San Terenzo where he lived with his wife Mary Shelley. He wrote these verses in Lerici:
Percey Bisshe SheleyOver the ocean bright and wide,Like spirit-winged chariots sentO'er some serenest elementFor ministrations strange and far,As if to some Elysian starSailed for drink to medicineSuch sweet and bitter pain as mine.And the wind that wing'd their flightFrom the land came fresh and light,And the scent of winged flowers,And the coolness of the hoursOf dew, and sweet warmth left by day,Were scatter'd o'er the twinkling bay.
Where Are You?
The Cinque Terre Area
The main city of the whole area, a charming town, facing the Gulf of the Poets.
One of the edges of the Gulf, open to the sea with the magnificent San Pietro Church.
On the eastern edge of the Gulf of the Poets, with its imponent castle is the gateway to the Lunigiana.
Tellaro is a little jewel, a quaint fishing village on the verge of the Gulf, with a beautiful overlook and charming traditions.