Portovenere from Palmaria Island.
|Palmaria Sunset from Tellaro. Brian Dunt|
Aside: Mediterranean Ecosystem.
Aside: Portoro Marble.
|Trail signage, Palmaria|
|Macchia on Palmaria near Portovenere, Tino Island in the background.|
|Broom flower (Ginestra)|
As you climb, the macchia gives way to terraced fields showing different levels of cultivation, past and present, and there are now more trees. Soon the trail to the beach at Pozzale branches off left (for a longer hike, adding about 90 minutes, walk down to Pozzale and then Capo dell'Isola and then back up to rejoin our route). Our path climbs to the right toward the seaward western shore of Palmaria. When the views open up, the trail turns northward to parallel the coastline.
|A rich Portoro Marble example from Palmaria (Portovenere).|
|Palmaria's 500 foot cliffs are a favorite backdrop for sailboats.|
|A Palmaria Goat. Click to enlarge.|
There's an attractive mix of fields and trees here and the trail comes closer to the cliffs, providing wonderful and scary views of sailing ships and sheer drops. These cliffs are 400-500 feet high – so it's little wonder the boats favor this setting - imagine the view they have. There are plenty of picnic places here with Maritime pines (a/k/a Umbrella pines) and Aleppo pines providing lots of deep shade. Some of the cliff flowers occur only here in these unique conditions.
|St. Peter's, Portovenere. 'every near hour is ancient' wrote Montal.|
As the trail passes through a rocky excavated area, you start to get glimpses of Portovenere. Here you see the colorful slender buildings, and then there's the Church of St.Peter on its rocky point. The church's location is poetry and philosophy - as Montale said of it, "Here you are at the origins / and deciding is foolish." You will admire and you will walk and as soon as you take one photo, you'll walk 50 feet and there's an even better one. In the distance is the fantastic coastline leading to the Cinque Terre. Little wonder those villages were isolated!
|The Cinque Terre / Portovenere Coast from Palmaria.|
First, get yourself to Portovenere, and for that we have a detailed article: Getting To Portovenere
The boat for Palmaria leaves Portovenere from Molo Doria, which is the first pier from the road (there's a little ticket booth nearby) and it costs 4.50 Euro RT. In high season which is June 15 to September 14, there are many trips so you just show up between 9am and 7pm.
In low season, September 15 to June 14, there are at least 9 trips daily. The schedule times posted on Nov. 2012) were 6:15 7:15 10:00 12:00 13:15 14:15 16:15 18:00 and 20:00 (the return is 10 minutes later).
There are also affordable water taxi services available in Portovenere, see the Getting to Portovenere link above or inquire locally. They are useful if you have a group, would like to be picked up across the Gulf, or want a customized hike.
All of this is subject to change and to rough weather. In high season, there may be a boat that stops at Pozzale while on a tour of the islands, but we couldn't verify it - inquire locally if that's of interest.
Pro Loco Portovenere is a pretty good website for a small town.
Parco Naturale Portovenere The park website has Palmaria history and trail descriptions (under 'tracks') in English.
Restaurants. There are two on the island. Il Pozzale in Pozzale on the far side of the island, and Locanda Lorena in Terrizzo which also has rooms and will send a motoboat to pick you up.
Liguria Guide Another description of the Palmaria trails with a map.
A blogger's trip to Palmaria described on the independent travel site No Crowds