Can there be any other more beautifully named gulf on earth than the Gulf of Poets? We don’t think so. And this magnificent stretch of water is yours to discover on Cinque Terre days trips from Florence.
We share a taste of the magical experience you’ll have with us on the Italian Riviera in our post below.
Exploring the Golfo dei Poeti
The Gulf of Poets, called Golfo dei Poeti, was a favorite hangout for the Romantic poets. Shelley, Byron, Petrarch and Montale are all closely associated with this stretch of water. Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy, and born in 1265, is also closely associated with the Gulf of Poets.
And if you think the name of this heavenly piece of coastline is music to the ears, wait until you feast your eyes on the gorgeous tiny villages, steep cliffs and blue and green water of the bay.
The Gulf of Poets is also known as the Gulf of La Spezia, and it’s in La Spezia town that you’ll board the first ferry of the day to sail along the Ligurian coastline.
La Spezia is Italy’s biggest naval base, but it still maintains the atmosphere of a quaint town. The town is known for its love of art and many visitors are struck by the Art Nouveau riches that line the streets. Creative architecture abounds and will keep you beguiled as you drift away from the town on your ferry.
As you feel the gentle waves transport you towards Portovenere, you’ll have time to gaze at the other views competing for your attention. Whether you’re taking photos, or capturing images in your mind’s eye for years to come, the Gulf of Poets delivers one stunning vista after the next.
Tall, narrow houses, built on the cliffs, add an extra element to the landscape with their different hues. The Ligurian sunshine has faded their colors to pastel shades.
You can also see the ruins of Doria Castle from your ferry.
This castle’s full name is the Andrea Doria Castle and it rises above the landscape like a regal monarch. It has a prime location that overlooks the Gulf of Poets. This phenomenal location must be why the castle was built here in 1161 by the Genoese.
The imposing ruins are made of local stone, and are an excellent example of Genoese military architecture.
You’ll have free time in Portovenere to enjoy some exploration on your own. In such beautiful surroundings, you’ll enjoy yourself no matter what you do. However, our top tip is to include a quick (or leisurely) stop at a restaurant to try a local speciality - pesto! Your tastebuds will thank you.
Getting to know Cinque Terre
Your time on the blue waters of the Gulf of Poets is not over yet.
Once our time in Portovenere comes to an end, we board our second ferry and sail along the coastline to the famed Cinque Terre.
Prior to reaching the five famous fishing villages that make up the Cinque Terre, you’ll discover some of the most breathtaking scenery that exists on earth.
Coves and rocky bays, turquoise and dark blue colored sea water in alternate places, rocky cliffs and houses that look like they stood on this spot for eternity; you’ll be forgiven for not knowing where to look first.
The Cinque Terre was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1997 and this has caused an influx of visitors to the area. This in no way detracts from the Cinque Terre’s magnificence, but it does make catching your first glimpse of the villages from the sea extra special.
While still approaching the shore, you’ll be able to spot the village of Monterosso, which is where we will spend the next part of our day trip.
Monterosso is famous for its delicious, bright yellow lemons, white grapes and olives. The abundance of these natural resources are incorporated into many of the dishes and refreshments to be found here. Taste one or taste them all!
The village of Monterosso al Mare (as it’s officially called) is strategically located on a small gulf. A beautiful, sandy beach bordered by inviting emerald water might just be one of the most tempting things you ever see in your life. Make sure you’ve got your swimming costume with you.
If you’re more of a hiker and would love to get to know another side to Monterosso, joining the optional hike up to the Capuchin Monastery high above the village could be more your scene.
A hike up to the summit rewards you with the view of countless Ligurian rooftops, bleached to pale, warm shades by the intense sun, vineyards and sea stretch out as far as the eye can see.
The Gulf of Poets and its beauty
The rest of our day trip commences with a train trip to another of the Cinque Terre villages; Manarola. This is also a way to travel, and village to explore, but that’s a story for another time.
For now, it’s time to let your mind imagine the sights you can see as you cross the waters of one of the most majestic gulfs in all the world.
The best part of all?
When you actually find yourself on your day tour, you’ll discover the Gulf of Poets, in real life, is twenty times more magnificent than anything you could ever conjure up in your mind!