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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Le Grazie, by Portovenere, near La Spezia




















Three kilometres from Portovenere is the village of Le Grazie. It sits in its own little harbour, part of the Gulf of La Spezia.

The town is named after the fourteenth century church of "Santa Maria delle Grazie" (Our Lady of Grace). Beside it is the monastery. Both were founded by the Olivetan Order.

The church contains splendid wood carving by Frà Paolo da Recco. In the centre of the high altar is the painting of the Madonna by Andrea del Aste.

Most of the monastery next door has been converted into apartments. However a large part of the monastery remains. The old refectory still remains. Frescoes by Nicolò Corso still remain.

Above the town are the remains of a Roman villa at Varignano dating from the first century B.C. The villa of rustic residential type, is located in the creek of of Le Grazie, on the lands of the town council of Porto Venere and on the slopes of the Muzzerone pass. The villa is open to the sea, in a landscape of an amazing beauty. The recent excavations at the villa are held in the Antiquarium della Villa Romana del Varignano in Portovenere.