After an off-road wine filled trip through the Chianti region of Italy (think Napa valley with hand made signs and no paved roads), the next GPS way point was set to Porto Venere; a small port city on the north west side of the “boot”.  Arriving in a tiny, but very “efficient”, cinquecento covered in Tuscan sand and dirt, I handed the Fiat to the valet driver whose skill is akin to fitting the square peg in the round hole.

I digress. Porto Venere is a place where no car is desired because it can be walked in a matter of hours. It’s a place where you actually connect with a local crowd, absent and drowned of heavy tourism and loud noises. With a beautiful uninterrupted view of multicolor hand painted buildings that touch the sea wall.  I was captured immediately and thrilled to be spending the weekend.

They (read Wikipedia) say the name, Porto Venere, comes from the goddess Venus where the church of Peter the Apostle now stands.

Aimlessly walking with my trusted partner *#TBT film Leica M6* I captured as much as I could. Walking streets is an adventure with secret nooks and alleyways that will lead you to some interesting detours (hint: bring your swimwear).  Just before reaching the top of the city, you can go to the rock formed beach and relax on one of the ledges; or have a very daring (and cold) swim.  The rock formations in the middle of the ocean, the natural caves, and beautiful clear water make it the spot for locals to go and just unwind. After my very daring swim I headed to the top*queue eye of the tiger* Picture this; a simple church laid out in black and white stone with only natural light bouncing its true beauty and simplicity.

It left me with a final thought: When I have a daughter, she will be married here*

Ok ok so aside from all this beauty and mystery what else does this Porto Venere have to offer; A gate to the five lands aka “Cinque Terre”. Basically Cinque Terre is made of five individual cities all laid out on the coast next to each other.

Tip: Feeling the need to burn those Italian carbs; It can take up to 2-3 hours to walk from town to town. I went ahead and hired a private boat *cheat mode on*.

The captain navigated us to the last town of Monterosso and worked his way back to Vernazza covering Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore in between. We stopped in Vernazza for lunch at a spot right on the entrance of the city for some fantastic Mediterranean cuisine. The five cities are very alike from the outside yet each one offers its own distinct character and soul. While making all these stops you see more of the tourist crowd and bigger tourist boats dropping of the herds of cattle. At this point I really appreciated the true discrete beauty of Porto Venere and how it really is the Hidden 6th land.