The Palmaria island falls into the municipal territory of Portovenere, as are the sisters Tino and Tinetto, the sentry of the Gulf of La Spezia on the west side.
It extends for about 2 square miles and represents an important naturalistic oasis, as well as being rich in testimonies of military architecture and even of prehistoric traces.
In one of its overhanging walls on the open sea towards Punta Dante, the Grotta dei Colombi is considered the home of the first inhabitants of the Gulf of La Spezia; The famous geologist and paleontologist Giovanni Capellini, senator of the Kingdom of Italy, explored it in 1869, finding human and animal bones, weapons, fragments of crude clay pots, shells and perforated teeth, hypothesizing that that primitive man lived hunting and fishing, and used to dress up with pendants and necklaces.
The island is rich in vegetation and has a thick Mediterranean scrub, including a rare variety of juniper and Centaurea veneris, known as the Fiordaliso of Portovenere, which grows on the most impervious cliffs of Mount Muzzerone and the islands, even on the overhanging walls for sport climbing.
Ampelodesma (Ampelodesmos Mauritanica), a grass locally known as “grass fasuéla”, with its long sharp leaves and slender pennants that exceed two meters in height, is buried in the rugged landscape.
This plant is typical of the archipelago of the three islands and well-known by the local fishermen who used it to weave it, getting ropes for the use of boats; The rugged summits were called “linbaanes” and in Portovenere there was a real factory called “a Curderìa”. Once the grass was cut, it was wetted and woven with a special frame; The stem, harder, was softened by hammer strikes.
The island once was intensely cultivated with olive and vine and still traces the intact terraced bands with dry stone walls in the Cinque Terre peasant style. Very noticeable are signs of intense excavation activity up to the sixties aimed at digging the “Portoro”, a precious black marble with typical gilding typical of the area around Portovenere: Mount Muzzerone and Castellana were built streets of lizza , like the Apuan Alps of Carrara, to get down to the precious marble blocks.
As for military architecture, on the highest point of the island, extends the impressive Forte Cavour dating back to 1859, wanted by the Sabaudian rulers, following the transfer of the navy from Genoa to La Spezia. Noteworthy is the presence of numerous batteries, such as “Carlo Alberto”, in memory of the visit of King Carlo Alberto to Portovenere and Palmaria in 1836, to which a monument was erected on his own quarry in front of him at the Bouches, the seafront that separates the island from the promontory of Portovenere, where stands the little church of St. Peter.
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