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D + 2: Doria Castle and White Marbles

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

One of the few things I could never find out was how the Doria Castle in Porto Venere was linked to the Doria family – except for the name of course What better way to find out than climbing up to the castle! There had to be a prospectus or a memorial plate with more information than on the internet. Sadly, the assumption was incorrect. The castle is actually more a fighting machine. Living quarters are quite small - the gun bastions enormous. Maybe the name castle is incorrect. It should be called fortress instead and was never a place where the Doria family actually lived. Compared to their comfortable and spacious palaces in Genoa, why would they?

Porto Venere was once the base of the Byzantine Fleet in the Tyrrhenian Sea

The heavily fortified old town of Porto Venere - just opening at 10 am

Whilst we did not learn more about the Doria connection, we saw the beauty of the place with rocks precipitating into the turquois to dark blue sea. What a beautiful spot.

View north towards Cinque Terre on the west of Porto Venere - it is said that Lord Byron swum in this bay

The mighty gun bastions of the Doria Castle which were built after the bombardment by the Aragonese Fleet in 1494

View from the castle on the St Lawrence church which was built by Genovese on the site of a former Jupiter temple

From Porto Venere we left for Pisa. First setting sail but the wind was moody and we never made more than 3 knots. After a good hour, we gave up and started the engines which got us to the Pisa Marina at 3.30 pm.

Sailing at 3 kn/h - we would have arrived in Pisa Marina after 19h at that speed

This week's itinerary - we decided to skip Livorno and visit Pisa instead

On the way to Pisa we saw the huge marble quarries of Carrera. They are visible for miles since the debris of the mining operation form little, white avalanches when they roll down the mountain.

Marble quarries in Carrera from about 6 miles distance - the white spots are marble reflecting sunlight

On the river Arno, there is a local catamaran ferry that connects Marina and the center of Pisa every hour. A ticket is EUR 15.- one way. But due to Covid-19, the service is suspended and we had to look for an alternative. The best offer we got was for EUR 400.-. An offer we gracefully declined. This guy has to make his money with other people. We took cabs instead which were no more expensive than the ferry.

The beautiful leaning tower of Pisa

The usually busy Piazza del Duomo was almost empty - no tourists this year!

Once in Pisa we noticed how few tourists there were in town. Must be hard for the hotel and restaurant owners. No Asians, no Americans, a few Europeans only. But in the evening sun the Duomo and the leaning Tower of Pisa were as beautiful as ever. Both almost sparkled. My comments a few weeks earlier that tower and duomo were assembled from re-cycled marbles was actually correct. We found Roman inscriptions on the stones used for the Duomo.

Recycled marble with Roman inscriptions

After a long day, a sea food dinner waited for us on the AFAED. So yummie! Best decision ever to have a Greek chef on board. He surprises every evening!

Back at the boat at 19 h - ready for dinner!

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