Things to do in Portovenere

Foto di Luca Casartelli:

Wondering where to spend your holidays in Liguria? Our staff has the answer you’re looking for: choose Portovenere! Nestled between the land and the sea, this lovely village offers a perfect blend of nature, culture, shopping, and fun. In a nutshell, if you’re looking to spend your holidays discovering the area, you’ll be in excellent company! Not convinced yet? Keep in mind that Portovenere is a haven of delicious food and wine! Apart from sightseeing, Portovenere offers countless activities and things to do. If you’re wondering what to do with your time while in Portovenere follow our tips, and you’ll enjoy a memorable vacation. First and foremost, we always encourage visitors to explore on foot, visit the Vecchio Mulino (ancient mill), take a boat tour of the islands, and go for a shopping spree in the historic center.

Walks in Portovenere

Going for a romantic walk and taking in the scenery is one of the best things to do in Portovenere. So, we chose a few walks that we believe to be at once iconic and suitable for all. They’re not nature walks or hiking trails – you can see these in a separate section. These are village-based itineraries ideal for those that wish to enjoy the local landscape and historical heritage.

Calata Doria

A picturesque promenade that provides you with the opportunity to admire the buildings typical of our seafront villages. Calata Doria, Portovenere’s seafront boardwalk, leads you straight to the small church of San Pietro, which rises on the edge of the town. It’s a can’t-miss sight for anyone who comes here, even just for a short visit.

Passeggiata Braccini alle Grazie

The Passeggiata Braccini, namely “Braccini walk” is a seafront boardwalk that rises just outside the town center, in the Delle Grazie neighborhood. Dedicated to General Otello Braccini, a partisan who fought to free the village during WWII, this beautiful promenade is an important spot for the local heritage and offers spectacular views of the Gulf.

The windmill

Walking up to the Doria Castle you’ll find the vestiges of two buildings formerly used as watchtowers. For a time, they were also used as windmills. Today, they are open to the public, and you can visit them free of charge. Both offer lovely panoramic views.

Ferry boat tour of the islands

The Cooperativa Barcaioli handles the ferry boat tours to Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto islands. The company’s headquarters are located just a few steps away from Il Timone. So, you could have a tasty typical Ligurian lunch and then set off to discover the islands. This activity might be a tad touristy, but it’s still incredibly enjoyable and exciting… So ships ahoy! The ferry departs Portovenere at 12 noon and 3:00 pm, and tickets cost around €12 per person (reduced fee for children); there are discounts and package rates available, too. Insider’s tip: to enjoy a perfect view of the islands during the first part of the tour make sure you find a seat on the right-hand side of the boat! The tour starts with the smallest of the archipelago islands, Tinetto, and continues to Palmaria and its coves. Make sure you find a seat on the bow of the ship for this part of the tour: you’ll see the coves and grottoes better! It’s not hard to find something lovely to do in Portovenere when the weather is fine. But what if it rains? We thought about this, too! Whatever the weather is like, it won’t keep you from enjoying your vacation. Actually, it could turn into a great opportunity. You could take a Ligurian cooking class, for instance, enjoy a wine tasting experience or explore ancient Portovenere. Curious about Ligurian cuisine and its typical dishes? Well, then you should try them and learn to make them!  

The art of making homemade pesto – Il Timone cooking classes

Pesto is much more than a sauce for pasta, it’s a Ligurian icon and a heartfelt tradition. Mastering the art of making perfect pesto allows you to enjoy it more, and savor life to its fullest. Upon request, Il Timone organizes cooking classes for small groups of a minimum of 5 to a maximum of 10 participants. Don’t be fooled by its apparent simplicity: real pesto “alla genovese” is the result of a subtle balance of different flavors and aromas! If you feel like trying your hand at preparing the finest of Italian sauces, contact us! We’ll be delighted to arrange an afternoon class. After the lesson, which lasts about an hour you’ll taste the pesto you made with pasta or focaccia! Once back home, you’ll have a special souvenir – the marvelous flavors of Liguria – to share with your friends and family… you’ll even have the opportunity to plan a Liguria-style dinner party!

Tasting of Ligurian wine

One of the most fascinating features of Italian wine is its spectacular variety. In Italy, every region, area, and town produces its own distinctive wine. Portovenere is no different: here you can find a limited, but excellent, local production. Il Timone produces its own Vermentino, which is a dry white wine with a delicate bouquet reminiscent of our local herbs and scents. Then there’s Parmaea, a true jewel of Ligurian tradition, produced and bottled on Palmaria Island. The grapes it is made with are grown in a small island vineyard (no more than half a hectare) hence the maximum yearly yield is about 1,000 bottles. Intrigued by our local wines? If you’re wondering what they’re like, ask us to organize a tasting at our Antica Osteria del Carugio! Our wine tasting experiences are available in the fall and early spring: the best times of the year to enjoy a glass of great wine at sunset!

What else can one do in Portovenere? Go shopping!

If you ever don’t know what to do, you can always tour Portovenere’s shops! The town center houses a variety of traditional shops filled with typical products. Here you’ll find exquisite handcrafted goods including colorful majolica, finely made fabrics, perfumes, and souvenirs perfect for your family and friends. The mezzeri, typical cotton shawls originally made in India, are especially lovely. Mezzeri manufacturing in Liguria began in the 1500s and has evolved over time along with fashion. You’ll find all kinds of products in Portovenere’s traditional stores. The pottery store in the center of the village, for instance, displays fine local craftsmanship, and plenty of options for sophisticated souvenirs. Strolling through the center of Portovenere you’ll also run into stores that sell hand-painted silk fabrics, perfect both for showing off on the beach and wearing as shawls in town. You can also purchase handmade accessories like rings, necklaces, and bracelets, as well as handbags and wooden clogs. Alongside the handicraft stores, you’ll also find well-known designer labels and typical food and wine shops. The latter are fabulous places to buy tasty souvenirs: you can buy good wine, or richly-flavored pesto and olive oil to take back home. Looking to taste, or buy, authentic EVO made in Portovenere? Come to Il Timone! We make, and bottle, our extra-virgin olive oil with the olives from our olive grove. We harvest the olives in late September to obtain a long-lasting product with low acidity. Choosing to harvest early means sacrificing quantity, but guarantees exceptional quality. Il Timone extra-virgin olive oil is available in 250 ml, 500 ml, 750 ml, and 3-liter bottles.

Portovenere, the old town. © Davide Papalini, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Food and wine souvenirs: sweet treats from Portovenere

Surprise your friends and family with a unique souvenir: Portovenere’s typical sweet treats! At Il Timone we make delicious local traditional specialties. Paperelle di Portovenere, for instance, are small meringues perfect to eat on their own or with ice cream! Scoglietti di Portovenere are another traditional delight: cookies reminiscent of the Genoese Pandolce that you can dunk in juice, milk, or dessert wine. Check out our menu, discover our typical traditional dishes, come and taste them, and get some inspiration for buying unique souvenirs!