In a summer that is struggling to arrive we escape the few hours free from work to visit one of the two ends of the Gulf of poets, Porto Venere.
High houses with warm colors that overlook the sea, leaving space only to large paving stones where you can find a good offer of local bars and restaurants. What characterizes Porto Venere is the church of San Pietro, built on the cliffs overlooking the sea. Being able to watch it aboard a boat, off the coast, is a unique view. Surely, if the weather permits, it deserves to rent a dinghy in its port or in the nearby city of Le Grazie in order to take a hike along the coast and to admire the city with another point of view. Here you can find the site of a dinghy rental service, I highly recommend to book in advance. In the high season it is practically impossible to find free boats the same day.
We, considering the short time available, preferred to focus more on the local culinary that offers Porto Venere.
As in many other areas of the sea you can find also a very fresh fried fish. In the inner alleys that pass between the houses we found a small street food that makes fried fish of all kinds. The name of the place is anciùa. The peculiarity of their products is the batter that wraps the different types of fishes. It is thicker and adds to the crunchiness of the crust a soft component given by the underside, then to get to the fresh taste of the fish. We, among the different types of fried dishes, we opted for sardines since all over the Ligurian Riviera are an undisputed must.
Here they are cooked in different ways but if I have to recommend one of it, I would say that the sardines (or anchovies) with potatoes and fresh tomatoes is a ricepe that you definitley have to taste.
Staying among the street foods to try in case you are on the Ligurian coast, we can only say the typical focaccia with pesto (or other toppings, but with pesto is definitley the top).
The focaccia is soft and crunchy at the same time , usually with a nice polishing of oil in the upper part. Warm will leave you speachless.
Pesto is impossible to describe, here is where it was born and it symbolize the tradition and typical culture of a unique territory that puts together the freshness of the sea with the rusticity of the Earth. If you are not satisfied with the focaccia you can buy pesto jars in small shops specialized in local products, along the narrow inland streets that cross the city.
For us this little taste of Porto Venere ends here, the time in these months is not on our side.
The big change will come in a few months, for the moment we have to settle for short magical moments of freedom. Fortunately in Italy it is enough to go on the road and travel a few km to find places that deserve to be lived, even for one day.