Lord Byron and the crossing of the Gulf of Poets 

The name of Golfo dei Poeti is due to Sem Benelli, Italian writer and playwright who was successful in the first half of the ‘900, already loved by Dante and Petrarch when it was still “only” a spectacular coast, then struck some of the major Anglo-Saxon poets, as John Keats and P.B. Shelley. And of course Byron who was a regular guest at Villa Magni on the coast of Lerici in their company. 

The Gulf of Poets, located on the beautiful Ligurian coast, is a place steeped in history, natural beauty and artistic inspiration. Among the many personalities who have been fascinated by it stands out Lord Byron. There, the English poet, left his legendary mark.


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Lord George Gordon Byron, known simply as Lord Byron, was born in 1788 in London and was one of the most influential and celebrated poets of the Romantic movement, known for his intense poetry, rebellious spirit and adventurous life.  

Byron was a charismatic and controversial figure, often associated with a series of eccentric and romantic adventures and exploits that fueled her legend. One of these adventures, full of charm and mystery, is the mythical crossing of the Gulf of Poets.


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Where is the Bay of Poets?

The Gulf of Poets, located near La Spezia, is one of the pearls of the Italian landscape. With its picturesque coastline, crystal clear waters and charming fishing villages, the Gulf has always fascinated poets and artists and tourists from all over the world. 

What are the poets of the Gulf of Poets? From the poets Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Gabriele D’Annuncio and Eugenio Montale to the artists William Turner, Arnold Böcklin, Carl Blechen and Antonio Fontanesi: the wild and romantic beauty of this place has inspired numerous literary and artistic works.

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The crossing of the Gulf of Poets 

In the early nineteenth century, Lord Byron moved to Italy, fascinated by the culture, art and breathtaking beauty of the country. He stayed in Milan, Venice and Ravenna, but developed a particular predilection for Liguria.  

The mythical crossing of the Gulf of Poets became one of the most famous episodes in the adventurous life of Lord Byron. It is said that the English poet undertook a daring swim from the cave of Porto Venere to Lerici to reach his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary who were staying at Villa Magni. Byron challenged the waves of the sea on a journey of over eight kilometers.  

According to legend, the 20-metre deep cave, located in the west of Poets’ Bay, was Byron’s secret refuge. This striking place, surrounded by the majesty of the cliffs and the crystal-clear beauty of the sea, inspired the English poet to create some of his most famous works. Here, immersed in the perpetual whisper of the waves, he lost himself in his reflections and found the inner peace necessary to give life to his immortal poems.

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The truth behind the narrative  

History and legends often intertwine, creating mysteries and an aura of uncertainty that fascinate entire generations. The Arpaia cave called “Byron” in honor of the famous English romantic poet is an example. 

Contrary to popular belief, however, Lord Byron never visited Porto Venere, as stated by authoritative historians and scholars. The truth is that during his voyage by ship to Genoa to Greece, Byron stopped at Lerici due to a severe fever. This unexpected event forced him to remain confined to an inn in Lerici instead of continuing his journey to Genoa. He then learned of the literary cenacle of the Trelawny, the owners of Villa Magni, and was often their guest. 

Despite Byron’s historical absence in Porto Venere, his legendary feat inspired the creation of an international-class cross-country swimming competition that takes place every year in Lerici at the end of August. Professional and amateur swimmers from all over the world compete in a course of eight kilometers and eight hundred meters of sea that separate Porto Venere from San Terenzo (place where Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Mary stayed in 1822). 

What is Lord Byron’s legacy? 

Lord Byron’s immortality in the Gulf of Poets lies not only in his legendary crossing, but also in his enduring influence on culture and poetry. Byron’s works reflect his passion for freedom, love and beauty, themes that blend perfectly with the poetic soul of the Bay of Poets.  

The rugged coastline, crystal clear waters and picturesque towns of this place continue to inspire artists and poets, keeping alive the bond with Lord Byron’s romantic legacy. The Gulf has become a place of pilgrimage for romantics and beauty lovers.

The perpetual charm of the Gulf of Poets 

Lord Byron’s mythical crossing of the Gulf of Poets remains one of the most fascinating adventures attributed to the poet. Its romantic heritage continues to permeate the atmosphere of the Gulf of Poets, inviting culture enthusiasts and artists to immerse themselves in a world of timeless inspiration. 

For its part, the Bay of Poets continues to enchant and inspire visitors from all over the world, who immerse themselves in the magic of this place full of poetry and romance.

Copertina: italiapervoimagazine

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