Organization Rules of the Park (PDF - 20 Kb)
Porto Venere Regional Park (L.R. no. 30 of 03/09/2001), including a Marine Protected Area, covers the most important area of the eastern section of Liguria, developing on a total area of about 400 hectares. The Terrestrial Area includes Porto Venere historical town center, the islands Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto, and the coastal stretch going from the town to Valle dell'Albana. The Marine Protected Area includes Porto Venere channel, characterized by a Posidonia seabed, all the south-western coast of the island, and the stretch of sea surrounding Tino and Tinetto islands. The whole area, declared in 1997 UNESCO World Heritage through the establishment of the site "Porto Venere Cinque Terre e Isole", belongs to 3 SCI areas (Sites of Community Importance according to the Directive CE 92/43 Habitat), demonstrating the importance of the biodiversity characterizing the Protected Area.
Porto Venere Regional Park lies in a territory
of rather recent formation: as a matter of fact, the islands Palmaria,
Tino, and Tinetto separated from the mainland only in the late
Quaternary. This has not enabled the floristic differentiation and
justifies the presence of the same flora on islands and inland areas
and of a few, although important, endemic species. Moreover, there are
various Mediterranean species reaching on these coasts their
north-eastern distribution limit.
(the following links lead to Italian texts)
The protection of the most precious area of eastern Liguria, entirely
situated in the Municipality of Porto Venere, was decided in 1985 with
Regional Decree no. 12.
In 1995, Cinque Terre Regional Park was established, while Promontori e delle Isole di Levante Regional Park was established in December 1999.
With L.R. (Regional Decree) 30/2001 Regione Liguria has acknowledged the peculiarity of the protected area. UNESCO has acknowledged it as World Heritage through the establishment of Porto Venere Regional Park.
Porto Venere is known above all for its landscape features: the
tower-houses leaning one against the other and forming a multicolored
group of buildings were built in the first half of the 12th century by
the Genoese to transform the ancient Roman "portus" in the fortified
outpost of their eastern border. These houses give the town a
uniqueness which has transformed it into a famous tourist destination.
The particular outline of the village and the small S. Pietro church clinging to the top of the rocky promontory overhanging the sea are set in a natural frame of unquestionable beauty and have always delighted poets, artists, and travellers. Anyway, not everyone is aware of the scientific importance of this area, which was the theater of important experiments and research activities.
As a matter of fact, Porto Venere had already been chosen in the second half of the 18th century by the naturalist Lazzaro Spallanzani as a base for his research activities: he defined it in his diaries "unique in Europe" and "... very adequate to satisfy the needs of eager researchers for the almost continuous peace characterizing it". One century later, the geologist and paleontologist Giovanni Capellini highlighted how Naturalists coming from all over the world to celebrate the jubilee of the zoological station in Naples, "expressly recognized that the first zoological station was in Porto Venere" in the house - a monastery at that time, then town hall, today a hotel - where Spallanzani used to study marine animals and carry out experiments on them, without neglecting important ornithological, botanical, and geological remarks. The establishment of Porto Venere and its archipelago Regional Park (Regional Law no. 30 of 03/09/2001), including a Marine Conservation Area, confirms after two centuries the naturalistic value of the area, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The terrestrial protected area includes not only the historical village center, but also the western coastline up to Albana Valley (here the territory of Tramonti begins, bordering with 5 Terre National Park), as well as Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto Islands. Despite its rather reduced area, 398 ha (including islands and mainland) and 3 km for the Marine Conservation Area, Porto Venere Regional Park is characterized by naturalistic features involving various disciplines: geology, speleology, paleontology, botany, ornithology, herpetology, and of course, marine biology. Leaving from Albana Valley, we meet the so-called "Reds", that is rocks whose characteristic color is given by the presence of fossil ammonites; beyond them, it is possible to admire the charming cliffs overhanging the sea, forming the famous Muzzerone practice wall, busy with climbers coming from all over the world for its various climbing opportunities (there are itineraries with various levels of difficulty) and the uniqueness of the uncontaminated landscape context. For these features, the stretch of coast between Tramonti and the rocky promontory of Porto Venere where the ancient San Pietro small church rises, house important bird species that are included in the "Habitat" Directive lists of the European Community (CE 92/43), like the Common Raven (Corvus corax), the Peregrine (Falco peregrinus), the Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius), and the Alpine Swift (Apus Melba).
The islands of the archipelago, whose substrata consist of limescale alternating with portoro, the rare black marble with characteristic yellow veining, represent the natural continuation of Porto Venere promontory: over 9,000 years ago, they formed a unit. Several sites in the Park territory bear evident traces of the portoro mining activity, and the Park is organizing a requalification and enhancement project to make them accessible to visitors. The islands are also characterized by karstic caves and cavities: in the most famous one, Grotta dei Colombi on Palmaria Islands, finds from the Paleolithic Age to the Metal Age have been discovered.
The area, safeguarded for its particular habitats and richness in
biological features, extends for 3 sq.km from Porto Venere channel,
where there is a Posidonia bed and across the so-called "Bocche", the
most narrow point of the channel between the village and Palmaria
Island, along the whole south-western coast of the island, including
the stretch of sea surrounding Tino and Tinetto Islands.
In this stretch of sea it is possible to find the main ecosystems of the Mediterranean Sea forming on the various kinds of seabed: sandy or rocky seabed and Posidonia bed. Therefore, the seabed is rich in animal and vegetal species linked to the different morphological aspects characterizing it: rocky, muddy, or sandy substrata. Deeper and deeper, we will find marine caves, pre-coralligenous and coralligenous areas rich in gorgonians (Eunicella singularis, Eunicella verrucosa, Leptogorgia samentosa) and madrepores. There are many protected species among seaweed, sponges, mollusks, crustaceans, and fish. The small Posidonia bed (Posidonia Oceanica) of the Channel offers food and shelter to a great quantity of marine organisms and fish which often live in it their whole life, like the Wrasse (Labrus viridis), the Great Pipefish (Syngnathus acus), the Sea Horse (Hippocampus ramulosus), and the Annular Seabream (Diplodus annularis).
Therefore, it is a stretch of sea of great naturalistic interest for the rich biodiversity of the seabed, visited every year by divers coming from all over Italy, and also for this reason highly vulnerable. The Park is going to regulate the various activities carried out in this area.