Portovenere is a small town situated in the Italian region of Liguria. This place and its unique San Pietro Church are listed as UNESCO World Cultural and Historical Heritage Sites in 1997. The whole city is composed of colorful small houses and winding streets up the hill, which leads to the temple St. Peter, located on a cape. Portovenere and San Pietro Church are most easily reached by ferry, which departs from the Cinque Terre, Lerici, or La Spezia.
Portovenere San Pietro Church is an early Christian building erected in black marble. It was built in the 6th century, at the site of an ancient temple of Venus, from which Portovenere gets its name. On the left side of the back of the church is located Byron's cove, where the poet loved to swim and dive during his stay in the area.
From the rocky cape of St. Peter's church is a splendid view of the sea and the famous Bay of poets. On the ruins of an early Christian church and the even older pagan temple of the goddess Venus, the new church was built between 1256 and 1277. The whole area around St. Peter's Church marks the historic center of Portovenere.
There currently is Spallanzani Square. In the Middle Ages there was formed a great enlightenment and spiritual center due to the incoming monks. Proof of their society can be seen in the monastery Tino and Tinetto islands.
In architectural terms, the San Pietro Church is distinguished by clean appearance and harmonious style. It consists of two buildings that are interconnected. One was built in Gothic style and the other was Romanesque, much more ancient. The new church was completed at the end of the 13th century by the Genoeses, who built a church on the foundations of the former Benedict Abbey. San Pietro Church was erected with entirely new columns and pillars and huge arches.
The interior of San Pietro Church in Portovenere can be seen decorated with black and white bands. The altar is remarkable and is marked by two chapels. This altar is one of the most important and beautiful works of Genoese Gothic architecture in this part of Italy. Made with extreme precision and elegance, the sculpture was a whole innovative technology for its time.
As a result of the turbulent historical past, and the influences of climate and sea waves, the San Pietro Church suffered severe damage in the course of history. Finally the church was restored between 1929 and 1934. Today San Pietro Church and the attractive rocky promontory on which it is located, are a favorite destination of many lovers coming from all parts of Italy and around the world to celebrate their wedding day.