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Introducing Porto Venere

If Cinque Terre were ever to pick up an honorary sixth member, Porto Venere would surely be it. Perched on the Gulf of Poets' western promontory, the village's sinuous seven- and eight-storey harbourfront houses form an almost impregnable citadel around the muscular Castello Doria. The Romans built Portus Veneris as a base en route from Gaul to Spain, and in later years the Byzantines, Lombards, Genovese and Napoleon all passed through here. Cinque Terre's marathon-length Sentiero Rosso (Red trail) to Levanto starts here, just behind the castle. Hikers, take a deep breath…