The colorful facades and pedestrians-only calata (promenade) make Portovenere the quintessential Ligurian seaside village; it's often called the “sixth town” of the Cinque Terre—but with half the crowds. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Portovenere is lined with tall, thin terratetto houses, which date from as far back as the 11th century and which were connected in a wall-like formation to protect against attacks by Pisans and local pirates. Its tiny carruggi (alleylike passageways) lead to an array of charming shops, homes, and gardens, and eventually to the village’s impressive Castle Doria, high on the olive-tree-covered hill. To the west, standing guard over the Mediterranean, is the picturesque medieval Chiesa di San Pietro, once the site of a temple to Venus (Venere in Italian), from which Portovenere gets its name. Nearby, in a rocky area leading to the sea, is Byron's Cave, one of the poet's favorite spots for swimming out into the sea.
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