The Gulf of Poets is one of the most beautiful destinations in Italy for sea lovers and hiking junkies. It is very close to the superb Cinque Terre, and took its name because many English, Italian and French poets used to live here and were inspired by this enchanted region.
If you look it up on a map of Italy, it will be hard to find the Gulf of Poets (translation for the Italian ‘Golfo dei Poeti’) marked somewhere close to the city of La Spezia. But if you follow the coast line from Genoa to the easternmost side of Liguria, once you have passed Cinque Terre, you will definitely find Portovenere and the village of Lerici on the opposite part of the gulf. La Spezia stands in the middle of this paradise, the “gulf of Spezia“… known worldwide as the Gulf of Poets because of writers and poets like D. H. Lawrence, Shelley, George Sand, Byron, Petrarca, Montale and Gabriele D’Annunzio among the others, who spent their holidays or part of their lives in the small towns along this gulf.
This is one of the most amazing areas of Liguria: a region where the mountains meet the sea, “focaccia” is the best lunch you can possibly have and “pesto” is not just a way to cook pasta, it’s pure magic! Cinque Terre are just around the corner and if you are planning a family holiday with kids, you can’t miss this little paradise.
How to organize a trip in the Gulf of Poets
The Gulf of Poets is a place where families traveling to this part of Italy will find little ancient towns, hidden trails, green hills, crystalline water, a coast rich in nature, history, art and local food. Like Cinque Terre, the Gulf of Poets will steal your heart away!!
How to get to the Gulf of Poets
But where is this magical place, and how can we get there?
The easiest way to get to the Gulf of Poets is by train, as the city of La Spezia can be reached in 3 hours from Milan and 3 hours and a half from Rome. The best trains to get there are the Intercity or the Frecciabianca trains. The villages of Lerici and Portovenere have no train station, so you can get there by ferry or by public bus.
Once in La Spezia, you can easily get to Riomaggiore (the closest of the Cinque Terre) in just 7 minutes by train.
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If you are driving to Italy, you can get to La Spezia and the Gulf of Poets by highway:
- From Milan: A7 highway that connects Milan to Genova + A12 from the city of Genova to La Spezia; or A1 highway until Parma + the A15 from Parma to La Spezia (about 230km in 2 hours and a half)
- From Florence: A11 highway from Florence to La Spezia (150km in one hour and a half)
- From Rome: you can drive along the coastline following the E80 until you reach La Spezia (410km in 4 hours and a half drive), or you can follow the A1 highway until Florence driving through Tuscany (420km in nearly 4 hours).
Where to sleep in the Gulf of Poets
The Gulf of Poets offers many kinds of accommodation for all budgets: from apartments to B&B, beautiful hotels, farms, hostels and a few campsites away from the beach. This is because the Gulf (and Liguria as well) is very mountainous and steep, so if you decide to sleep in a tent or in a bungalow just be aware that the camping could be a few steps out of town.
Portovenere is a great location to stay at, and if you are looking for a great hotel we can recommend Hotel Royal Sporting that is in front of the bay, with a magnificent view on Palmaria island. The hotel offers private parking (very convenient in these ancient villages full of narrow streets!) and it has a private beach, where kids can play and have fun after you have visited the nearby villages.
If you are looking for a more relaxing and quiet accommodation, nestled in the hills, you can opt for B&B Il Tulipano, which is 15 minutes drive away from the city of La Spezia.
Eating delicious food at Palmaria Island
“Focaccia al pesto” or “con le cipolle” (with onion), amazing fresh sea food and “Trenette al pesto” to die for!! Would you like to try something really special and memorable? Ok, go to Locanda Lorena right on the shore of Palmaria island. Palmaria is the biggest island in Liguria and it stands right opposite Portovenere. You can get there in 10 minutes by boat, with special transfers organized by the restaurant itself.
The Locanda is a cute building overlooking the coast which was used by sailors as a ost office between the years 1930 and 1940. Today it is a real hidden gem in this region, that won several awards for its delicious healthy food, surrounded by beautiful landscapes.
Visiting the Gulf of Poets with kids: recommendation
The Gulf of Poets is definitely a romantic destination, but if you are traveling to Italy with kids, we are sure that they will love it too! In every village you will find something different to discover: nice shops where you can buy hand made toys, shells to collect at the beach, artists painting up in the hills and the most amazing gelato ever!
Baby carriers are the best solution to carry your little ones as there are plenty of stairs, rocky and slippery hills. Even the best country strollers could be quite inappropriate if you plan to visit the Gulf and Cinque Terre by train.
Besides restaurants, it will be hard to find baby chairs or changing tables, so don’t forget to take we wipes and diapers with you, and always think outside the box in moments of need!! A bench in a playground or a rocky wall by the sea will become perfect changing tables!
The Gulf of Poets is a truly Italian experience! Do not miss it and start thinking about a family trip there!