Though less famous than certain other Italian coastal enclaves, Porto Venere is a stunner — a village on the Ligurian coast, looking eastward towards the Ligurian Sea and southward towards the island of Palmaria. With that background, you won’t be shocked to learn that the Grand Hotel Portovenere is the top hotel in town. What you might not expect, however, is the way this historic hotel has been transformed into a modern boutique-hotel experience, even as it retains the classic architecture and the details — particularly the colors — that make it such a perfect example of Italian Riviera style.
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The building was once a convent, and long pre-dates the modern hotel business, which results in some eccentric floor plans and also some unique views, both down the peninsula and out to sea. Many rooms include balconies or terraces, and the exact blend of the historical and the contemporary varies as well — they’re uniformly attractive, though, and plenty comfortable.
There’s a partnership with the nearby Sporting Beach Club, to provide highly civilized access to the Ligurian Sea in that inimitable Mediterranean grand-hotel style. And back at the hotel, there’s a restaurant, Palmaria, with a spectacular panoramic view and an equally spectacular menu featuring Ligurian seafood and much more. Tastings and cooking classes are available as well, and nearby you’ll have the option to tour oyster farms, wineries, and even the quarries where Michelangelo sourced his famous Carrara marble.