The Gulf of the Poets
Villages and hills gathered around the bay of La Spezia to admire the evocative, inspiring beauty of perfecly blended nature and architecture.
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 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:
Percy Bysshe ShelleyOver 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.
Explore The Gulf of the Poets
- Where are you?
Cinque Terre Area
Not to miss in the Gulf of the Poets
The Gulf of the Poets in six points:
A new vibrant, city, with interesting art and technical museums, good restaurants and bars and a relaxed atmosphere, La Spezia is at the center of the Gulf of the Poets.
The Portovenere Archipelago
La Spezia beaches are not in town, but the Gulf of the Poets beaches are easily reached from the town, while others require a few instructions.
The Poets' places
Why this evocative name? What did the poets say about the Gulf, where did they go? A journey through the Poets’ places.
Enjoy the Golden Hour
Useful Advice to explore the Gulf of the Poets
How to travel in the Gulf of the Poets
- By car: all localities are served with good driveways, but most of them do not have a rail station.
- By ferry, you can reach Palmaria Island and many localities of the Gulf by ferry from La Spezia, view our La Spezia ferry schedule.
- Cycling to reach the many localties of the Gulf is possible, although assisted bikes are recommended if you are not trained. View our bike guided tours.
The ferry crosses the Gulf of the Poets.
All villages of the Gulf of the Gulf of the Poets are worth a visit: we recommend investing one or two days crossing the bay by ferry, enjoying the many perspectives on the Gulf offered by each place.
At the moment, the Gulf of the Poets is less crowded with tourists than the more popular Cinque Terre in the high season.