A Place to Inspire: Byron’s Grotto

| Fri, 08/14/2020 - 00:00
Byron's Grotto and the Castle of Portovenere, Liguria

The Protected Marine Area of ​​the Cinque Terre National Park extends along the stretch of coast that comprises such famous places as Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare, the five villages collectively known as the Cinque Terre.

Beautiful spots are everywhere within this protected area, and not necessarily as sought-after as the five villages mentioned above. One such spot is the mysterious Byron’s Cave, named after the British poet Lord Byron, who, enamored with this area of Liguria, spent time in the Gulf of Poets (clearly, not the only poet to be mesmerized and inspired by the deep and wide bay on the eastern tip of Liguria's coast, stretching between the villages of Portovenere and Lerici; many British poets belonging to the literary Romanticism movement lived here).

Byron's Grotto is a natural cavity located near a cove just west of Portovenere. The scenic effect is impressive, surmounted as it is by the Church of San Pietro and the walls of the Portovenere Castle. The cave’s depth varies from a minimum of 5 meters to a maximum of 20 meters along the sides; along the walls are small crustaceans.

There are many stories revolving around Lord Byron’s sojourn in Liguria. One says that he often spent time in the cave meditating and it was there that he drew inspiration for many of his works. Another story says that he used to swim for eight kilometers in the bay to go visit his friend and fellow writer Shelley, who lived in Lerici. 

You can access the cave through a narrow opening in the square in front of the Church of San Pietro; a very beautiful view of the grotto can be admired from the ancient portico of the church.