A few years ago, while vacationing with family in Porto Venere, Italy, we walked into town as per our usual morning routine, and reached San Pietro’s little church. I walked in to find coolness and I found magic instead.
The quiet of the ancient church, the light hitting the roses on the altar, making them glow… it was a breathless moment.
Of course, that morning I had left my camera back at the hotel. Will I ever learn?.
So off I went, hot and tired, all the way back to the hotel (about 2 miles), and then all the way to San Pietro again (another 2 miles). But I could not not photograph this. The reward was worth it: these images, and ice cream.
The history of San Pietro’s church goes back a long time. An initial structure was built towards the end of 1100 – becoming a full fledged church in 1198 – over a votive temple to the goddess Venus Ericina (from which the name Porto Venere), the remains of which are still visible inside the church. On top of this initial edifice, the current church, in full Genoese-Gothic style, was built by the people of Genoa between 1256 and 1277 in gratitude to the people of Porto Venere for their help in conquering the Castle of Lerici (across the bay). History saw to it that it would get bombed, damaged, and repaired several times over the centuries. And myth has it that Saint Peter himself stopped here in his errant days on his way to Rome.
Rising from the rocks above the sea, the little church is a stunning sight, and the ideal merging point between heaven, earth and sea. Couples come from all over the world to get married here.
And that must have been what happened the day before.
Click on the large image to view the light box in larger size.
That was my first year photographing digital. I shot these with my Nikon D2x, hand held in rather low lighting at 800 ISO. I was happily surprised at the result.
Porto Venere is one of my favorite places on the planet. I have been there countless times, and I know it like my own pockets (come le mie tasche). For me it’s one of those deja-vu places where I know I have been before, and I don’t mean in this life. I have felt a very strong connection with this place since my first visit. I almost bought a house here, an apartment, actually, one of those in the tall, fortress-like buildings that form the core of the village, the ones with no elevators and stairs that go on forever, but with pretty little vine covered patios ideal for summer night dinners with friends.
Some years ago I even started writing a historical novel set here. The plot is really good, if I say so myself, and I still have all the notes and research. Then life derailed me, as it often does. Who knows, maybe one day I will finish it.
Not part of the Cinque Terre, Porto Venere – designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Site – is, in a way, the starting point to the Cinque Terre, and just as stunning. I will certainly be writing more about this beloved little place of mine, sharing more stories about it, photos, and tips on where to stay and eat, and will link them with each other so you can find them all in one place should you want to.
In the meantime, I hope you have enjoyed these images of Light.