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The La Spezia Bay is known as the Golfo dei Poeti, the Gulf of Poets. This is because many poets have praised its beauty throughout time, also chosing its shores as their home.
Since Ancient Roman Empire times, when La Spezia didn’t exist as a city and the Emperor would give his most valuable and noble friends pieces of land to relax in a at the time pristine land, the Poet Persio would live here, possibly in one of the many Roman Villas that still can be seen in the area.
But the naturally evocative power of the steep reef, the quiet asperity of people and land, the restlessness of the sea have been inspiring especially for romantic poets, who wanted to feel the power of nature above men : George Sand so described the sea she viewed from her window:
The sea is a painting that changes in color and mood every minute, day and night. There are profundities here filled with a clangor whose dreadful variety is hard to imagine; all the cries of despair, all the curses of hell intermingle here, and under my little window I hear in the night voices from the abyss that sometimes roar in a nameless bacchanalia, at others, savage hymns fearsome even in the extent of the consolation they bring.
Percy Bysshe Shelley lost his life in the sea while sailing offshore San Terenzo where he was living with Mary Shelley. He wrote these lines in Lerici:
Over the ocean bright and wide,Like spirit-winged chariots sentO’er some serenest elementFor ministrations strange and far,As if to some Elysian starSailed for drink to medicineSuch sweet and bitter pain as mine.And the wind that wing’d their flightFrom the land came fresh and light,And the scent of winged flowers,And the coolness of the hoursOf dew, and sweet warmth left by day,Were scatter’d o’er the twinkling bay.
The suggestive grotto in Portovenere is named after Lord Byron, who also spent part of his life here, practicing as a keen swimmer.
These are just a few examples of the really impressive list of Italian and international poets who choose La Spezia and its sea as home for inspiration. Eugenio Montale is one of the most loved ones, we think he best described the feeling of universal power of nature you can experience in Portovenere:
There- no one’s eyes
nor ears are bent on self.
Here- you are at the origins
and deciding is foolish:
re-begin later to assume a nature.