Lord Byron, a good swimmer had wound up on The Grand Tour, ultimately deciding to call Portovenere homeIt was a short boat ride from Cinque Terre, and just across the bay from La Spezia and Lerici, where his good friends, the Shelley's lived in an old boathouse, locally known as the Casa Bianca (the White House), although officially, its name was Casa Magni after the family who owned it. Byron would regularly swim across the bay to San Terenzo where he'd pay a visit to Mary and Percy Shelley. And while they might be some of the most wellknown authors who came to town (after all, it's here where Mary Shelley penned her Frankenstein), the area has attracted poets and authors for centuries.

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The hamlet of San Terenzo is located just on the opposite side of an inlet from Lerici. Both sides were protected by a looming castle perched high above the water and offering good views of any approaching pirates, when they were a thing. Byron would probably come ashore on the tidy beach of San Terenzo, and then take a short climb up to the White House, where no doubt a bottle of chilled white wine would be waiting.

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In the 1820's, Casa Magni was surrounded by woods and fields, Mary and Percy Shelley rented the neglected house in the spring of 1822 from the owners of the Marigola estate because it reminded them of a somewhat dilapidated ship. Shelley had a sailboat moored in the little harbor, with which he undertook trips down the coast to major port towns such as Livorno. On one such trip, in July of 1822, he got caught in a sudden storm that capsized his boat. He drowned, with his body finally washing up later on the beach of Viareggio.

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Lerici became one of the favorite haunts of large numbers of mainly Italian poets and painters. The town is as picturesque as any of the famed Cinque Terre, but without the huge onslaught of tourists. Not just in the Romantic period of days of yore, but for centuries right up till today, Lerici draws romantics, poets, writers and painters to its shore. Even Dante and Francesco Petrarch had visited the place as early as the Middle Ages, with more contemporary novelists, Virginia Woolf and D,H.Lawrence awed by its enchantment in more recent times.


With its myriad walking trails criss-crossing  the hills above Lerici, which can be another article in itself, Lerici boasts the Trail of Words, or rather, the Sentiero delle parole, an 18 km walk along memory lane in the footsteps of the poets and writers who found inspiration here.

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