Grotta di Lord Byron in Portovenere on the Ligurian coast.

© Elena Odareeva/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Grotta di Byron

Top choice in Porto Venere

At the end of the quay, a Cinque Terre panorama unfolds from the rocky terraces of a cave formerly known as Grotta Arpaia. Lord Byron once swam across the gulf from here to Lerici to visit the resident Shelleys and despite the cave's collapse, the rocky terraces remain quite beautiful and suitably dishevelled and affecting.

To add to the frisson, know that traces of a pagan temple dedicated to Venus (hence a suggestion to the name 'Venere') have been uncovered here, as well as inside the black-and-white-marble Chiesa di San Pietro. Just off the promontory, you can see the tiny islands of Palmaria, Tino and Tinetto.

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