Torches and poetry for Saint Peter’s in Portovenere

La chiesa di San Pietro a Porto Venere – Saint Peter's Church in Porto Venere

The church of Saint Peter in Portovenere, in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, juts out from a rock spur onto the Gulf of Poets, an area that was dear to great artists such as George Sand, David Herbert Lawrence, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

After his visit here, Lord Byron wrote a poem that begins, There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, / There is a rapture on the lonely shore, / There is society, where none intrudes, / By the deep sea, and music in its roar.

Built in 1198 over what was left of an ancient pagan temple, Saint Peter’s was probably completed between 1256 and 1277, when its distinctive black-and-white striped body was erected. Then, from the 15th century on, fires and ransacking caused great damage to the structure, until it was fully renovated in the 1930s.

Every year, on August 17, people here celebrate the White Madonna – lighting up the slope of the church’s promontory with hundreds of burning torches. From afar, at night, the flames seem to emerge from the sea. To quote Eugenio Montale – another great poet who loved this area – they seem to rise from the waves that lap / the threshold of a Christian / temple, and every near hour / is ancient.

Photos via:
rete.comuni-italiani.it/foto/2009/192216 rete.comuni-italiani.it/foto/2009/265319 rete.comuni-italiani.it/foto/2009/357243 rete.comuni-italiani.it/foto/2009/194319 rete.comuni-italiani.it/foto/2009/37103 rete.comuni-italiani.it/foto/2009/141334 https://www.flickr.com/photos/14053783@N05/2530543268 https://www.flickr.com/photos/28856270@N08/4005018543 https://www.flickr.com/photos/37901048@N08/4632342489 https://www.flickr.com/photos/80288841@N08/7897169996 https://www.flickr.com/photos/clikkets/7126456135 https://www.flickr.com/photos/bronsphoto/5751697932 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jgru/5069861394 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jvonr/89863527 https://www.flickr.com/photos/rodmilne/4685717297 vittoriopuggioni.it/

April 23, 2015

Torches and poetry for Saint Peter’s in Portovenere

Porto Venere
Piazza Lazzaro Spallanzani
+39 0187 790684