Location: Porto Venere- Multicoloured buildings, pesto capital of the world and cliff top churches.
Amazing food and incredible scenery were the order of the day today. Still in dock at La Grazie waiting for our newly repaired sail to be delivered, we got the chance to explore the nearby town of Porto Venere – world famous for its pesto. A short bus ride around the headland (made particularly short by the wonders of Italian driving) took us into the center of the small town. From there we explored… firstly the options of a second breakfast, as if the delicious scrambled eggs and hash browns served up by Chef Casey this morning weren’t enough. Porto Venere has numerous attractive features to discover. A touristy and picturesque waterfront gives an impressive first view of the town, made up of tall multicolored and multi-shaped buildings lining a quaint harbor filled with small boats, pebble beaches and even a small water polo pitch. At one end of the waterfront the path leads up to an unusual, small, striped church perched right up on the cliffs. The short stroll up to it is rewarded with breathtaking views along the jagged, azure coastline. There was a surprisingly large difference between the turbulent water out to sea and the calm, protected natural harbor. Large stone walls with arched, window-like openings provide opportunities for budding landscape photographers and amusing poses alike. The other end of the waterfront leads around to a narrow street which traverses up through the center of the small settlement. A mishmash of trinket stores, small restaurants and pesto/pasta shops line either side, providing an overpowering delight for the senses, with flashes of bright colors, wafts of freshly made pizza’s and pastries, the deliciousness of pesto covered bread samples, snatches of melodramatic conversations of local Italians and a warm Mediterranean breeze on the skin. All this exploring could only lead to one thing…lunch. What else but local seafood, pesto and pasta, it would be a crime not to! A few steps along the street led to dessert – sweetbread pie filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries – heaven. After such culinary indulgence some exercise was definitely called for, so to walk off our lunch we headed up the narrow alleyways and staircases, weaving our way to the top of the hill to investigate the castle. Once again we were rewarded with breathtaking views, a majestic, almost Gothic church and numerous photo opportunities. The striking castle would surely have deterred many assaults of the town during more tumultuous times. Nowadays however, it houses a display of modern art, which is a stark contrast to the structure that protects it. Eventually it was time to return to our faithful Argo for hot shore showers, a delicious roast chicken dinner and an informative science class on scientific writing, to prepare the shipmates for their literature review projects. For now, it is time for a full nights sleep without anchor watch in preparation for whatever adventures tomorrow may bring. Ciao.