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The colorful facades and pedestrians-only calata (promenade) make Portovenere the quintessential Ligurian seaside village. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its harbor is lined with tall, thin terratetto houses that date from as far back as the 11th century and are connected in a wall-like formation to protect against attacks by the Pisans and local pirates. Its tiny carruggi
(alley-like passageways) lead to an array of charming shops, homes, and gardens, and eventually to the village’s impressive Castle Doria, high on the olive-tree-covered hill. To the west, standing guard over the Mediterranean, is the picturesque medieval Chiesa di San Pietro, once the site of a temple to Venus (Venere in Italian), from which Portovenere gets its name. Nearby, in a rocky area leading to the sea, is Byron's Cave, a favorite spot that the poet loved to swim out into the sea from.
Albenga has a medieval core, with narrow streets laid out by the ancient Romans. A network of alleys is punctuated by centuries-old towers...