We’re taking you on a journey to explore the charming city of La Spezia, nestled along the Italian Riviera. Often overlooked in favor of the more famous Cinque Terre, La Spezia has a lot to offer for those who are willing to spend a few days getting to know this underrated destination. Here are the top reasons why you should consider visiting La Spezia on your next Italian adventure.
Stunning Gulf Views
Few cities can boast a more picturesque gulf than La Spezia, framed by the majestic Apuan Alps and the Apennines. Strolling along the waterfront promenade, you’ll be captivated by the striking contrast between the mountains and the sea. To fully appreciate the beauty of the area, consider taking a boat tour around the gulf.
La Spezia’s waterfront promenade, known as the “Passeggiata Morin,” has a fascinating history dating back to the 19th century. It was initially developed as part of the city’s expansion and modernization plan under the Kingdom of Sardinia. The promenade was designed to provide a relaxing and scenic space for residents and visitors to enjoy the stunning views of the Gulf of La Spezia. Over time, the promenade has undergone several transformations, including the construction of the famous statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi, a key figure in the unification of Italy. Today, the Passeggiata Morin is a vibrant and bustling area filled with shops, restaurants, and cafes, making it an essential stop for those exploring the rich history and culture of La Spezia.
Rich Cultural Offerings
La Spezia is home to numerous museums that cater to a variety of interests. Some must-visits include the Naval Museum (soon to be renovated), the Lia Museum, which houses illuminated manuscripts and artworks by Titian and Bellini, and the Diocesan Museum, showcasing sacred art from local churches. Other noteworthy cultural attractions are the Ethnographic Museum, the Seal Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the Transportation Museum, and the CAMEC Museum of Modern Art.
The CAMEC Museum of Modern Art in La Spezia is a cultural gem showcasing an impressive collection of contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries. Housed in a beautifully restored historic building, the museum provides an engaging space for art enthusiasts to explore the works of both established and emerging artists. The museum’s collection features a diverse range of mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and video art, highlighting the evolving landscape of modern artistic expression. Temporary exhibitions ensure that there is always something new to discover, making CAMEC an exciting and dynamic cultural destination for visitors to La Spezia.
Wander around La Spezia’s historic center, and you’ll be enchanted by the well-preserved Art Nouveau buildings adorned with intricate sculptures, friezes, and grand doorways. Take an hour or two to explore these architectural gems by following a walking itinerary .
In La Spezia, several notable Art Nouveau buildings can be found, showcasing the city’s embrace of this elegant architectural style during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the most prominent examples is Palazzo Maggiani, situated on Viale Aldo Ferrari. The building is adorned with exquisite details, including ornamental sculptures, intricate friezes, and impressive portals. The facade of this stunning edifice reflects the influence of the Liberty style, which is the Italian interpretation of Art Nouveau.
Another remarkable Art Nouveau building is Villa Marmori, located in the Morucciola district. This majestic villa was built for the Marmori family and showcases the characteristic curved lines, floral motifs, and sinuous forms typical of the Art Nouveau movement. These architectural masterpieces are a testament to La Spezia’s rich cultural heritage and are sure to captivate any visitor with an interest in art, history, or architecture.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Just a stone’s throw from La Spezia, you’ll find the UNESCO-listed Portovenere, Cinque Terre, and the islands of Palmaria, Tino, and Tinetto. These coastal areas boast unique landscapes, characterized by dramatic cliffs, terraced vineyards, and charming villages nestled between the sea and the hills.
For centuries, these awe-inspiring locations have captivated the hearts and minds of poets, writers, and artists, such as Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Eugenio Montale, who sought inspiration in the stunning surroundings. The area’s undeniable charm and beauty have earned it a special place in the world of literature and art, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in a rich cultural and historical tapestry.
Aside from the poetic allure, the region also offers various outdoor activities, such as hiking and boat tours, allowing visitors to explore and appreciate the pristine landscapes and the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Whether you’re searching for artistic inspiration, a romantic escape, or simply a memorable adventure, the magical allure of these coastal gems near La Spezia is sure to leave a lasting impression.
La Spezia’s province is home to six of Italy’s most beautiful villages. Tellaro, perched on the sea, has long been a favorite of writers and poets. Montemarcello, Brugnato, Varese Ligure, Vernazza, and Framura all offer picturesque scenes and well-preserved historical centers.
Montemarcello, a picturesque village located in the province of La Spezia, has earned its reputation as one of Italy’s most beautiful “borghi” (small towns), thanks to its captivating charm and breathtaking vistas. This enchanting destination sits on a hilltop overlooking the Ligurian Sea and the Magra River, providing visitors with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Montemarcello’s narrow, winding streets, colorful houses, and charming piazzas are quintessential examples of Italian allure, making it a must-see destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience.
The village’s rich history, dating back to Roman times, is apparent in its well-preserved architecture, such as the Church of San Pietro, which boasts an exquisite Romanesque facade. Montemarcello’s exceptional beauty and timeless appeal make it a captivating destination for those exploring the wonders of Italy’s picturesque borghi.
La Spezia is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts, with numerous trails that connect the city to surrounding villages and hills. Some popular routes include Campiglia to Portovenere, Campiglia to Cinque Terre, and the trail from Sarbia to Montalbano. For more adventurous trekkers, the nearby Apuan Alps provide an array of challenging climbs and breathtaking vistas.
The ring trail MAROLA-CAMPIGLIA is a scenic loop that begins in Acquasanta and leads to Campiglia. It follows the AVG/AV5T trail towards Porto Venere, passing notable landmarks like a church, the Piccolo Blu, a mill, and a former sports field. The path continues along a ridge with breathtaking views of Campiglia, before descending to the picturesque village of Marola. After passing through Marola, the trail connects back to Acquasanta via Viale Fieschi. Along the way, hikers will experience varied landscapes, including forests, a Portoro quarry, and panoramic ridge staircases, offering a diverse and enjoyable hiking experience.
Beaches for Every Taste
La Spezia’s coastline offers an array of beaches to suit every preference, from sandy shores in Portovenere, Monterosso, Levanto, and Lerici, to pebbled beaches in Riomaggiore and Corniglia. Whether you prefer well-equipped beach resorts or secluded coves, you’ll find your ideal seaside escape here.
Lerici, a picturesque coastal town in the province of La Spezia, boasts a stunning array of beautiful beaches that cater to various preferences. Renowned for its charming harbor, historical castle, and vibrant waterfront, the area offers a diverse selection of shores that attract visitors and locals alike. The main beaches in Lerici include the sandy Lido di Lerici, the more secluded Fiascherino, and the picturesque San Terenzo, each with their own unique charm.
Lido di Lerici is a popular spot due to its convenient location near the town center, offering various amenities and water sports opportunities. Fiascherino, nestled between two cliffs, provides a more tranquil setting for those seeking a peaceful retreat. Here, visitors can enjoy crystal-clear waters and natural beauty, perfect for a relaxing day at the beach. San Terenzo, situated close to the historical San Terenzo Castle, boasts a wide stretch of fine sand, shallow waters, and a promenade lined with colorful Ligurian houses.
In addition to these main beaches, the Lerici coastline is dotted with numerous smaller coves and inlets, accessible via hiking trails or boat rides. This variety ensures that every beachgoer can find their ideal spot to soak up the sun and enjoy the stunning Italian Riviera.
In conclusion, La Spezia is an incredible destination that deserves to be explored beyond just being a gateway to Cinque Terre. The city’s stunning gulf views, rich cultural offerings, elegant architecture, charming villages, and abundant hiking opportunities make it a must-visit for any traveler seeking a unique and memorable Italian adventure.